Skip to main content

Full text of "The pardoner's wallet"

See other formats


•J \ 

Digitized by the Internet Archive 
in 2013 

^p Samuel JH* CrotI)er6 

THE PARDONER'S WALLET. nmOt $1.2$, net. 
Postage extra. 

THE ENDLESS LIFE. i6mo,gilt top, 85 cents, 
ttet. Postage extra. 

THE GENTLE READER. i2mo, $i.2S, net. Post- 
paid, ^1.37. 

trated. Square lamo, $1.00 net. Postpaid $1.08. 


Boston and New York. 







Ci)e EitJerfiiUe presg, Cambritiffe 



Published November igos 




THERE is a well-grounded prejudice against 
a volume which exhibits no marks of design 
and which turns out to be only a fortuitous col- 
lection of essays. It is felt that the chapters 
brought together under the cover of a single book 
should have something in common. When one 
sees a number of subjects, each standing aloof 
from the others, he predicts infelicity. It sug- 
gests incompatibility of temper. 

The essays brought together in " the Pardoner's 
Wallet" have at least a certain community of 
interest. They treat of aspects of human nature 
which, while open to friendly criticism, are excusa- 
ble. If the author sometimes touches upon the 
foibles of his betters, he at least has the grace to 
know that they are his betters. 




















With him ther rood a gentil Pardoner 
Of Rouncival, his freend and his compeer. 
That streight was comen fro the Court of Rome. 

A vernicle hadde he sowed on his cappe 
His walet lay biforn him in his lappe 
Bretful of pardoun. 

1HAVE no plea to make for this fourteenth- 
century pardoner. He was an impudent vag- 
abond, trafficking in damaged goods. One did 
not need to be a Lollard in order to see that he 
was a reprehensible character. Discerning per- 
sons in need of relics would go to responsible 
dealers where they could be assured of getting 
their money's worth. This glib-tongued fellow 
peddling religious articles from door to door 
lived on the credulity of untraveled country 
people. He took advantage of their weaknesses. 
Many a good wife would purchase a pardon she 
had no need of, simply because he offered it as a 


bargain. This was all wrong. We all know how 
the business of indulgence-selling was overdone. 
There was a general loss of confidence on the 
part of the purchasing public ; and at last in the 
days of the too enterprising Tetzel there came a 
disastrous slump. There was no market for par- 
dons, even of the gilt-edged varieties. Since then 
very little has been doing in this line, at least 
among the northern nations. 

The pardoner richly deserved his fate. And yet 
there are times when one would give something 
to see the merry knave coming down the road. 

I suppose that the nature of each individual 
has its point of moral saturation. When this 
point is reached, it is of no use to continue exhor- 
tation or rebuke or any kind of didactic effort. 
Even the finest quality of righteous indignation 
will no longer soak in. With me the point 
of moral saturation comes when I attend suc- 
cessively more meetings of a reformatory and 
denunciatory character than nature intended me 
to profit by. If they are well distributed in point 
of time, I can take in a considerable number of 
good causes and earnestly reprobate an equal 
number of crying evils. But there is a certain 


monotony of rebuke which I am sure is not bene- 
ficial to persons of my disposition. That some 
things are wrong I admit, but when I am 
peremptorily ordered to believe that everything 
is wrong, it arouses in me a certain obstinacy of 
contradiction. I might be led to such a belief, but 
I will not be driven to it. I rebel against those 
censors of manners and morals who treat all hu- 
man imperfectnesses with equal rigor. To relax 
even for an instant the righteous frown over the 
things that are going wrong, into an indulgent 
smile at the things that are not nearly so bad as 
they seem, is in their eyes nothing less than com- 
pounding a felony. If they would allow proper 
intervals between protests, so that the conscience 
could cool down, all would be well. But this is 
just what they will not allow. The wheels must 
go round without intermission until progress is 
stopped by the disagreeable accident of " a hot 

You remember after Mrs. Proudie had given 
her guests a severe lesson in social ethics, the Sig- 
nora asked in her hearing, — 

" ' Is she always like this ^ ' 

" ' Yes — always — madam,' said Mrs. Proudie, 


returning ; ' always the same — always equally 
adverse to impropriety of conduct of every de- 
scription.' " 

Mrs. Proudie was an excellent woman accord- 
ing to her light, yet Barchester would have been 
a happier place to live in had her light been less 
constant. A little flicker now and then, a mo- 
mentary relief from the glare, would have been 

It is when the note of personal responsibility 
has been forced beyond my ability that I feel be- 
neath my inherited Puritanism the stirring of a 
vague Papistry. Instead of joining another pro- 
testing society beginning with that feverish par- 
ticle " anti," how delightful it would be to go out 
and dicker with a well-conditioned pardoner 
Streight comen fro the Court of Rome ! 

Wearied with diatribes and resolutions, one falls 
back upon the guileless bargainings of Simple 

" Let me taste your ware," say I. 

" Show me first your penny," says the pardoner. 

There is a renewal of one's youth in this im- 
mortal repartee. 

There is no greater relief than to go out and 


buy something, especially if one can buy it cheap. 
A great part of the attractiveness of the mediaeval 
indulgences lay in the fact that you could buy 
them. They would not have seemed the same 
if they had been given away, or if you had to work 
them out like a road tax. To go out and buy a 
little heart's ease was an enticement. 

Then again, the natural man, when he has to 
do with an institution, is in a passive rather than 
in an active mood. If it is instituted for his bet- 
terment, he says, " Let it better me." It seems 
too bad that in the end it should throw all the 
responsibility back upon himself 

A delightful old English traveler criticises the 
methods of transportation he found in vogue in 
parts of Germany. He says that on the Rhine 
it was customary to make the passengers do the 
rowing. " Their custome is that the passengers 
must exercise themselves with oares and rowing, 
alternis vicibus^ a couple together. So that the 
master of the boate (who methinks in honestie 
ought either to do it himself or to procure some 
others to do it for him) never roweth but when 
his turne commeth. This exercise both for recrea- 
tion and health sake is I confesse very convenient 


for man. But to be tied unto it by way of strict 
necessitie when one payeth well for his passage 
was a thing that did not a little distaste my hu- 

This is the trouble which many of us find in 
the modern methods of doing good. There 
are all sorts of organizations which promise well. 
But no sooner have we embarked on a worthy 
undertaking than we find that we are expected 
to work our passage. The officers of the boat 
disclaim all further responsibility, leaving that to 
private judgment. It is the true Protestant way 
and it works excellently well, when it works at all. 
It offers a fine challenge to disinterested virtue. 
But there are occasions when the natural man 
rebels. To have so much put upon him doth 
"not a little distaste his humour." He longs 
for the good old times when there w^re thinkers 
who were not above their business, and who when 
he was at his wit's end would do his thinking for 
him. It 's the same way with being excused for 
his shortcomings. Of course on a pinch he can 
excuse himself, but he generally makes a pretty 
poor job of it. It would be much more satisfac- 
tory to have a duly authorized person who, for a 


consideration, would assume the whole responsi- 
bility. Of course if he had done something that 
was really unpardonable, that would be another 
matter. The law would have to take its course. 
But there are a great many venial transgressions. 
What he wants is some one who can assure him 
that they are venial. 

Let no good Protestant take offense at the find- 
ing of a Pardoner's Wallet in this twentieth cen- 
tury. It is only a wallet containing tentative 
suggestions concerning things pardonable. No- 
thing is authoritatively signed and sealed. 

Of one thing let the good Protestant take no- 
tice. I would have my pardoner know his place. 
He must not meddle with things too high for 
him. He has no right to deal with the graver sins 
or to speak for a higher power. He must not 
speak even in the name of the Church, which has 
worthier spokesmen than he. In a book on in- 
dulgences the author says, "On the subject of 
elongated, centenary, and millenary pardons, it 
would take too much space to enlarge." I should 
rule out all such ambitious plans, not only from 
lack of space but on conscientious grounds. 

My pardoner should confine himself to a more 


modest task. He should be the spokesman not 
of any ecclesiastical power, but only of ordinary 
and errant human nature. There are sins against 
eternal law that must at all times be taken seri- 
ously. The trouble with us poor mortals is that, 
even in our remorse, we do not take very long 
views. The judgment that seems most terrible to 
us is that of the people who live next door. The 
transgressions which loom largest are offenses 
against social conventions and against our own 
sensitive vanity. The pangs of remorse for an 
act of remembered awkwardness are likely to be 
more poignant than those which come as retribu- 
tion for an acknowledged crime. 

Here is ample room for a present-day pardoner. 
I should like to hear him make the cheery procla- 
mation of his trade. 

" Good friends : You are not what you would 
like to be. You are not what you think you are. 
You are not what your neighbors think you are, 
— or rather, you are not what you think your 
neighbors think you are. Your foibles, your pec- 
cadillos, your fallacies, and your prejudices are 
more numerous than you imagine. But take heart 
of grace, good people. These things are not un- 


pardonable. We indulgencers have learned to 
make allowances for human nature. Let 's see 
what 's in my wallet I No crowding ! Each will 
be served in his turn." 

If I were a duly licensed pardoner, I should 
have a number of nicely engraved indulgences 
for what are called sins of omission. Not that 
I should attempt to extenuate the graver sort. I 
should not hold out false hopes to thankless sons 
or indifferent husbands. To be followed by such 
riff-raff would spoil my trade with the better 
classes. I should not have anything in my wallet 
for the acrimonious critic, who brings a railing 
accusation against his neighbor, and omits to sign 
his name. Some omissions are unpardonable. 

I should, at the beginning, confine my traffic 
to those sins which easily beset conscientious per- 
sons about half past two in the morning. We 
have warrant for thinking that the sleep of the 
just is refreshing. This is doubtless true of the 
completely just; but with the just man in the 
making it is frequently otherwise. There is a 
stage in his strenuous moral career which is con- 
ducive to insomnia. 


Having gone to sleep because he was tired, he 
presently awakes for the same reason. He is, 
however, only half awake. Those kindly com- 
forters. Common-sense, Humor, and Self-esteem, 
whose function it is to keep him on reasonably 
good terms with himself while he is doing his 
necessary work, are still dozing. 

Then Conscience appears, — a terrible appa- 
rition. There is a vague menace in her glance. 
The poor wretch cowers beneath it. Then is 
unrolled the lengthening list of the things left 
undone which ought to have been done. Every 
unwritten letter and uncalled call and unattended 
committee meeting and unread report emerges 
from the vasty deep and adds its burden of unut- 
terable guilt. The Thing That Was Not Worth 
Doing arises and demands with insatiate energy 
that it be done at once. The Thing Half-done, 
because there was no time to finish it, appears 
with wan face accusing him of its untimely 
taking off. The Stitch not Taken in Time 
appears with its pitiful ninefold progeny all 
doomed because of a moment's inattention. It 
seems that his moral raiment, instead of being 
put together with an eye to permanency, has been 


stitched on a single-thread machine and the end 
of the seam never properly fastened. Now he is 
pulling at the thread, and he sees the whole fabric 
unraveling before his eyes. 

His past existence looms before him as a bat- 
tlefield with a perpetual conflict of duties, — 
each duty cruelly slain by its brother duty. While 
the wailing of these poor ghosts is in his ears he 
cannot rest. And yet he knows full well that at 
half past two in the morning the one inexorable 
duty is that he should go to sleep. Conscience 
points to this as another duty left undone. Then 
begins a new cycle of self-reproach. 

At such times the sight of an indulgence neatly 
framed hanging upon the bedroom wall would 
be worth more than it would cost. It would save 
doctor's bills. 

Even in our waking hours there is a tendency 
for the sins of omission and the sorrows of omis- 
sion to pile up in monstrous fashion. There is a 
curious ingenuity which some persons have in 
loading themselves with burdens which do not 
belong to them, and in extracting melancholy re- 
flections out of their good fortune. They will not 
frankly accept a blessing in its own proper form, 


— it must come to them in a mournful disguise. 
Poets seem particularly subject to these inversions 
of feeling. Here are some lines entitled " Two 
Sorrows : " — 

Before Love came my eyes were dim with tears 
Because I had not known her gentle face. 

Softly I said, ** But when across the years 
Her smile illumes the darkness of my place. 
All grief from my poor heart she will efface.** 

Now Love is mine — she walks with me for aye 
Down paths of primrose and blue violet. 

But on my heart at every close of day 

A grief more keen than my old grief is set. 

I weep for those who have not found Love yet. 

There is a fine altruism about this sentiment 
that one cannot but respect ; yet I should hate to 
live with a person who felt that way. One would 
not venture on any little kindness for fear of open- 
ing a new floodgate of tears. 

I should feel like urging another point of view. 
It is true that you are happy, happier than you 
deserve. But don't get morbid about it; take it 
cheerfully. It 's not your fault. It seems selfish, 
you say, to enjoy your blessings when there are n't 
enough to go round among all your fellow beings. 


Why, my dear fellow, that's the only way to 
make them go around. What if, theoretically, it 
is a little selfish ? We will readily pardon that for 
the sake of the satisfaction we get out of seeing 
you have a good time. We much prefer that you 
should allow us to sympathize with you in your 
happiness, rather than that you should inflict 
upon us too much sympathy for our depriva- 

There is opportunity for a thriving trade in 
indulgences for necessarily slighted work. I em- 
phasize the idea of necessity, for I am aware of 
the danger of gross abuse if poets and painters 
should get the notion that they may find easy 
absolution for the sin of offering to the public 
something less than their best. Their best is none 
too good. We must not, through misdirected 
charity, lower the standards of self-respecting 

But some of us are not artists. The ordinary 
man is compelled to spend most of his time on 
pot-boilers of one kind or another. When the pot 
is merrily boiling, and all the odds and ends are 
being mingled in a savory stew, I would allow 


the ordinary man some satisfaction. As fingers 
were made before forks, so mediocrity was made 
before genius. Has mediocrity no right to enjoy 
its own work, just because it is not the very 

We of the commonalty who are fitted to live 
happily in the comparative degree, allow ourselves 
to be bullied by the superlative. There are un- 
easy spirits who trouble Israel. They continually 
quote the maxim that whatever is worth doing 
is worth doing well. It is a good maxim in its 
way, and causes no particular hardship until our 
eyes are opened and we see what it means to do 
anything superlatively well. When we are shown 
by example the technical excellence which is 
possible in the simplest forms of activity, and 
the extent to which we fall short, we are appalled. 
It is a wonder that we keep going at all when 
we consider the slovenly way we breathe. And 
yet breathing, though it well might engage all 
our attention, is only one of the things we have 
to do. 

I attribute a good deal of the sense of stress in 
modern life to the new standards of excellence 
that are set in regard to the multifarious activities 


which make up our daily lives. We have to do 
a hundred different things. This is not particu- 
larly trying so long as it is merely touch and go. 
In our amateurish way we rather enjoy the vari- 
ety. But when a hundred experts beset us, each 
one of whom has made a life study of a particu- 
lar act, we are bowed in contrition. There is no 
good in us but good intentions, and they cannot 
save us. Our life story is summed up like that 
of the unfortunate sparrow in the tragical history 
of Cock Robin: 

His aim then he took 
But he took it not right. 

Our capacity for imperfectness seems absolutely 
unlimited. The effort taken to achieve success in 
one direction is from another point of view a dis- 
sipation of energy. It is so much power with- 
drawn from another possible achievement. The 
most versatile men do not do all things equally 
well, and while the world calls them successful 
they are inwardly conscious of their manifold fail- 
ures. Mr. Balfour as Prime Minister of the Brit- 
ish Empire has had much to gratify his ambition, 
but he takes the public into his confidence and 
confesses that he is a bitterly disappointed man. 


For, in addition to other accomplishments, he 
plays golf, a game that develops a conscience of 
its own. He plays well, but his conscience tells 
him that he does not play as well as he might. " I 
belong," he says, *' to that unhappy class of beings 
forever pursued by remorse, who are conscious 
that they threw away in youth opportunities that 
were open to them of beginning golf at a time 
of life when alone the muscles can be attuned to 
the full perfection required by the most difficult 
game that perhaps exists." 

Surely there must be a way by which such vain 
regrets may be stilled. Life has its inevitable com- 
promises. We cannot always be at our best. 
Take such a simple matter as that of masticating 
our food. Before I had given much thought to 
it, I should have said that it was something worth 
doing and worth doing well. When I learned 
that Mr. Gladstone was accustomed to chew each 
morsel of food thirty-two times, I thought it 
greatly to his credit. For a man who had so 
many other things to do, that seemed enough. 

But when I read a book of some three hundred 
pages containing the whole duty of man in regard 
to chewing, I was disheartened. Mr. Gladstone 


appeared to be a mere tyro guilty of bolting his 
food. " The author has found that one fifth of 
the midway section of the garden young onion, 
sometimes called shallot, has required seven hun- 
dred and twenty-two mastications before disap- 
pearing through involuntary swallowing." 

The author evidently did his whole duty by 
that young onion, and yet I should have pardoned 
him if he had done something less. That doctrine 
of his about involuntary swallowing being the 
only kind that is morally justifiable, seems to me 
to be too austere. If we have to swallow in the 
end, why not show a cheerful willingness "? 

Not only do those need comfort who do less 
than is expected of them, those who do more are 
often in an equally sorry plight. Their excel- 
lences make them obnoxious to their neighbors, 
and are treated as unpardonable offenses. I would 
have a special line of indulgences for that class 
of people known as the " unco guid." I know no 
persons more in need of charity, and who get so 
little of it. Every man's hand is against them, 
especially every hand that wields the pen of a 
ready writer. They seem predestinated to literary 


reprobation, and that without regard to their 
genuinely good works or to their continuance in 
the same. And yet the whole extent of their crime 
is that, being in some respects better than their 
neighbors, they are painfully aware of the fact. 
It is because they have tasted of the forbidden 
knowledge of their own moral superiority that 
their fall is deemed irremediable. 

I confess that, in spite of all that has been said 
against them, I have a tender feeling for them. 
They are persecuted for self-righteousness without 
the benefit of any beatitude. Why should we 
consider it unpardonable to be fully cognizant of 
one's undoubted virtues? Of course unconscious 
virtue is the more paradisiacal, while conscious 
virtue often rubs one the wrong way. But while 
there are so many worse things in the world, why 
should we mind a little thing like that ? 

We listen to Dumas' swashbuckling heroes 
recounting their transgressions. We know that 
they are not so bad as they would have us believe, 
but we think no worse of them for that. But let 
a thoroughly respectable man draw attention to his 
own fine qualities, and we treat every deviation 
from exact fact as a crime. When he indulges in 


some exaggeration and pictures himself as rather 
better than he is, we cry, " Hypocrite ! " If he 
claims possession of some single virtue which 
does not, in our judgment, harmonize with some 
of his other characteristics, we treat him as if he 
had stolen it. And yet, poor fellow I he may have 
come honestly by this bit of finery, though he has 
not been able to get other things to match it. All 
this is unkind. 

Whatever one may think of the " unco guid," 
every right-minded person must agree with me 
that something ought to be done for the peace of 
mind of the quiet, respectable, good people who 
bear the heat and burden of the day. I have in 
mind the people who pay taxes, and build homes, 
and support churches and schools and hospitals, 
and now and then go to the theatre. They are as 
hkely as not to be moderately well to do, and if 
they are not, nobody knows it. When times are 
hard with them, they keep their own counsels and 
go about with head erect and the best foot for- 
ward. You may see multitudes of these people 
every day. 

As a class, these people are sadly put upon. 
They are criticised not only for their own short- 


comings, but for those of all their irresponsible 
fellow citizens. If anything goes wrong they are 
sure to hear about it, for they listen to sermons, 
and read the newspapers, and attend meetings. 
No reformer can be truly eloquent who does not 
point his finger at his hearer, and say, " Thou art 
the man ! " Now, unfortunately, the real delin- 
quents are usually absent, and the right-minded, 
conscientious hearer of the word, who is doing 
all he can for social regeneration, even to the verge 
of nervous prostration, has to act as substitute. 
He has been so often assured that he is the guilty 
man that, by and by, he comes to believe it. 

He walks to church with his family only to be 
told that it is his fault, and the fault of those like 
him, that other people have gone off in their 
automobiles. Perhaps, if he had walked differ- 
ently, he might have made church-going more 
attractive to them. The evils of intemperance 
are laid at his door. It is not worth while to blame 
the drunkard or the saloon-keeper ; they are not 
within ear-shot. As to pauperism and vice, every 
one knows that they arise from social conditions ; 
and pray who is responsible for these conditions 
unless it be the meek man who sits in the pew, — 


at least, he is the only one who can readily be 
made to assume the responsibility. 

There is something wholesome in all this if it 
be not overdone. I, myself, like to have my fling 
at the man who is trying to do his duty, and to 
twit him occasionally for not doing more. It 
keeps him from self-righteousness. But some- 
times it is carried too far, and the poor man stag- 
gers under a load of vicarious guilt. 

I especially hate to see the man who is trying 
to do his duty given over to the censures of those 
who do not try. There is something very harsh 
in the judgment of the ne'er-do-well upon his 
well-to-do brother. His attitude is the extreme 
of phariseeism, as he contrasts his own generous 
and care-free nature with the pickayunish pru- 
dence which he scorns. To be sure, his brother 
in the end pays his debts for him, but he does it 
with a narrow scrutiny which robs the act of its 
natural charm. His acts of helpfulness are marred 
by a tendency to didacticism. All these things 
are laid up against him. 

But allowance should be made for the differ- 
ence in condition. Ne'er-do-wellness is an expan- 
sive state. There are no natural limits to it. It 


develops broad views, and its peculiar virtues have 
a free field. It is different with well-to-doness, 
which is a precarious condition with a very narrow 
margin of safety. The ne'er-do-well can afford to 
be generous, seeing that his generosity costs him 
nothing. He is free from all belittling calcula- 
tions necessary to those who are compelled to 
adjust means to ends, — he is indifferent to ends 
and he has no means. 

When the morally responsible person finds 
himself too much put upon, I would grant him 
a generous indulgence. After all, I would tell 
him, the prudential virtues are not so bad. It is a 
good deal of an achievement to make both ends 
meet. I am not disposed to be too hard on those 
who accomplish this, even though I may think a 
little fullness in their moral garments might be 
more becoming. 

I should also make provision for the pardon 
of those good people who are harshly judged be- 
cause their virtues are unseasonable. But their 
case involves delicate considerations that can best 
be treated in another chapter. 


THERE are certain philosophers who have 
fallen into the habit of speaking slightingly 
of Time and Space. Time, they say, is only a 
poor concept of ours corresponding to no ulti- 
mate reality, and Space is little better. They are 
merely mental receptacles into which we put our 
sensations. We are assured that could we get at 
the right point of view we should see that real 
existence is timeless. Of course we cannot get 
at the right point of view, but that does not 

It is easy to understand how philosophers can 
talk in that way, for familiarity with great sub- 
jects breeds contempt ; but we of the laity cannot 
dismiss either Time or Space so cavalierly. Hav- 
ing once acquired the time-habit, it is difficult 
to see how we could live without it. We are 
accustomed to use the minutes and hours as step- 
ping-stones, and we pick our way from one to 


another. If it were not for them, we should find 
ourselves at once beyond our depth. It is the 
succession of events which makes them interest- 
ing. There is a delightful transitoriness about 
everything, and yet the sense that there is more 
where it all comes from. To the unsophisticated 
mind Eternity is not the negation of Time ; it is 
having all the time one wants. And why may 
not the unsophisticated mind be as nearly right in 
such matters as any other? 

In a timeless existence there would be no dis- 
tinction between now and then, before and after. 
Yesterdays and to-days would be merged in one 
featureless Forever. When we met one another it 
would be impertinent to ask, " How do you do *? " 
The chilHng answer would be : "I do not do ; I 
am." There would be nothing more to say to one 
who had reduced his being to such bare meta- 
physical first principles. 

I much prefer living in Time, where there are 
circumstances and incidents to give variety to 
existence. There is a dramatic instinct in all of 
us that must be satisfied. We watch with keen 
interest for what is coming next. We would 
rather have long waits than to have no shifting 


of the scenes, and all the actors on the stage at 
once, doing nothing. 

An open-minded editor prints the following 
question from an anxious reader in regard to a 
serial story appearing in his paper : " Does it 
make any difference in reading the serial whether 
I begin with Saturday's chapter and read back- 
ward toward Monday, or should the tale be read 
as the chapters appear ? " 

The editor assures his subscriber that the story 
is of such uniform excellence that it would read 
well in either direction. In practical affairs our 
dramatic instinct will not allow us this latitude. 
We insist upon certain sequences. There is an 
expectancy that one thing will lead up to another. 
We do not take kindly to an anti-climax or to 
an anachronism. The Hebrew sage declares, " He 
hath made everything beautiful in his time." That 
is in the right time, but alas for the beautiful 
thing that falls upon the wrong time ! It is be- 
witched beyond all recognition by the old necro- 
mancer who has power to make " ancient good 

It is just here that charity requires that we 
should discriminate. There is a situation that de- 


mands the services of a kind-hearted indulgencer. 
Ethics has to do with two kinds of offenses : one 
is against the eternal and unchanging standards 
of right and wrong, and the other against the 
perpetually varying conditions of the passing day. 
We are continually confusing the two. We visit 
upon the ancient uncouth good which comes 
honestly stumbling on its belated journey toward 
the perfect, all the condemnation that properly 
belongs to willful evil. It is lucky if it gets off so 
easily as that, for we are likely to add the pains 
and penalties which belong to hypocritical pre- 
tense. As for a premature kind of goodness com- 
ing before there is time properly to classify it, that 
must expect martyrdom. Something of the old 
feeling about strangers still survives in us. We 
think it safer to treat the stranger as an enemy. 
If he survives our attacks we may make friends 
with him. 

Those good people who, in their devotion to 
their own ideals, have ignored all considerations 
of timeliness, have usually passed through sore 
tribulations. They have been the victims of cruel 
misunderstandings. Such, for example, was Saint 
Cerbonius. Cerbonius is one of the October saints. 


October is a good month for saints. The ecclesi- 
astical calendar gives us a sense of spiritual mel- 
lowness and fruitfulness. The virtues celebrated 
are without the acidity which belongs to some 
other seasons : witness Saint Francis of Assisi, 
Saint Teresa, Saint Luke, the beloved physician, 
Saint John Capistran, of whom it is written, " he 
had a singular talent for reconciling inveterate 
enemies and inducing them to love one another." 
Cerbonius has a modest place in this autumnal 
brotherhood ; indeed, in some Lives of the Saints, 
he is not even mentioned, and yet he had the 
true October spirit. Nevertheless, his good was 
evil spoken of, and he came near to excommuni- 
cation, and all because of his divergence from 
popular custom in the matter of time. 

It seems that he lived towards the end of the 
sixth century, and that he was bishop of Piom- 
bino. Very soon a great scandal arose, for it was 
declared that the bishop was neglecting his duties. 
At the accustomed hour the citizens came to the 
cathedral for their devotions, only to find the chan- 
cel devoid of clergy. Cerbonius and his priests 
were at that moment comfortably seated at break- 
fast. Each succeeding morning witnessed the 


same scene. The bishop was evidently an infidel 
scoffing at the rites of religion. Appeal was made 
to Rome, and legates were appointed who con- 
firmed the astounding rumors. At last Cerbonius 
went to Rome to plead his cause ; but only by a 
special miracle was his character cleared. The 
miracle induced the authorities to look into the 
matter more carefully, and it was found that Cer- 
bonius, instead of neglecting his duties, had been 
carried away by holy zeal. While the people of 
Piombino were still in their beds, Cerbonius and 
his clergy would be celebrating mass. As for 
breakfast, that was quite late in the day. 

It is easy to be wise after the event, and now 
that the matter has been cleared up it is evident 
that all the religion was not on one side. Taking 
a large view of the subject, we see that in the 
course of the twenty-four hours the bishop spent 
as much time in the church as the most scrupu- 
lous parishioner could ask. But it was just this 
large view that they were unwilling to take. With 
them it was now or never. They judged his char- 
acter by the cross-section which they took at one 
particular hour. 

I suppose that, had I lived in Piombino, I 


should have been a moderate anti-Cerbonian. 
Cerbonius was in error, but not in mortal sin. He 
was guilty of a heresy that disturbed the peace 
of the church, — that of early rising. So long as 
early rising is held only as a creed for substance 
of doctrine and set forth as a counsel of perfection, 
it may be tolerated, but when the creed becomes 
a deed it awakens fanatical opposition. This 
breeds schism. A person cannot be popular who 
gets the reputation of being a human alarm clock. 
The primitive instinct in regard to an alarm clock 
is to stop it. If Cerbonius had possessed the tact 
necessary to a man in his position, he would not 
only have done his duty, but he would have done 
it at the time most convenient to the greatest 
number. His virtue was unseasonable ; but be- 
tween a man of unseasonable virtue and an aban- 
doned character who has no virtue at all, there is 
a great difference. It is just this difference which 
the majority of people will not see. They make 
no distinction between one who deliberately of- 
fends against the eternal verities and one who 
accidentally tramples upon a temporary verity 
that he did n't know was there. 

Most of our quarrels do not concern absolute 


right and wrong ; they arise from disputes about 
the time of day. Two persons may have the 
same qualities and convictions and yet never 
agree. An ironical fate sets them at cross pur- 
poses and they never meet without irritating con- 
tradictions. It is all because their moods do not 
synchronize. One is always a little too slow, the 
other a little too fast. When one is in fine fettle 
the other is just beginning to get tired. They 
are equally serious, but never on the same occa- 
sion, and so each accuses the other of heartless 
frivolity. They have an equal appreciation of a 
pleasantry, but they never see it at the same in- 
stant. One gives it an uproarious welcome when 
the other is speeding the parting guest. 

Two quick-tempered people may live together 
very comfortably so long as they lose their tem- 
pers simultaneously ; they are then ready to make 
up at the same time. They get on like an auto- 
mobile, by a series of small explosions accurately 
timed. But when a quick-tempered person is un- 
equally yoked with one who is slow to wrath, the 
case is difficult. The slowness causes continual 
apprehension. The fuse burns so deliberately that 
it seems to have gone out and then the explo- 


sion comes. In such cases there can be no ade- 
quate explanation. The offender would apologize 
if he could remember what the offense was, and 
he does n't dare to ask. 

Said one theologian to another: "The differ- 
ence between us is that your God is my Devil." 
This involved more than the mere matter of no- 
menclature. It upset the spiritual time-table and 
caused disastrous collisions. When one good man 
set forth valiantly to fight the Devil, the other 
would charge him with disturbing his worship. 

The fact that one man's work is another man's 
play is equally fruitful in misunderstandings. The 
proverbial irritability of the literary and artistic 
tribes arises in part from this cause. They feel that 
they are never taken seriously. When we go to 
a good play we find it so easy to be amused that 
we do not realize what hard work it is for those 
whose business it is to be amusing. The better 
the work, the more effortless it seems to us. On 
a summer afternoon we take up a novel in a mood 
which to the conscientious novelist seems sacri- 
lege. He has thrown all the earnestness of his 
nature into it, and he wants his message to be 
received in the same spirit. We have earnestness 


of nature too, but we have expended it in other 
directions. Having finished our work, we take 
our rest by reading his. It is a pleasant way to 
pass the time. This enrages the novehst, and he 
writes essays to rebuke us. He calls us Philistines 
and other hard names, and says that we are inca- 
pable of appreciating literary art. 

But what is our offense ? We have used his 
work for our own purpose, which was to rest our 
minds. We got out of it what at the time we 
needed. Does he not act in very much the same 
way*? Did we not see him at the town-meeting 
when a very serious question concerning the man- 
agement of the town poor-house was to be set- 
tled ? It was a time when every good citizen 
should have shown his interest by speaking an 
earnest word. Unmindful of all this, he sat 
through the meeting with the air of an amused 
outsider. He paid little attention to the weighty 
arguments of the selectmen, but noted down all 
their slips in grammar. He confessed unblush- 
ingly that he attended the meeting simply to get 
a little local color. What is to become of the 
country when a tax-payer will take the duties of 
citizenship so lightly'? 


These recriminations go on endlessly. Because 
we do not see certain qualities in action, we deny 
their existence. The owl has a reputation for 
sedentary habits and unpractical wisdom, simply 
because he keeps different business hours from 
those to which we are accustomed. Could we 
look in on him during the rush time, we would 
find him a hustling fellow. He has no time to 
waste on unremunerative meditation. This is his 
busy night. How ridiculous is the sleepiness of 
the greater part of the animal world ! There is 
the lark nodding for hours on his perch. They 
say he never really wakes up — at least, nobody 
has seen him awake. 

There is a pedagogical theory according to 
which each individual in his early life repeats 
quite accurately the history of mankind up to 
date. He passes through all the successive stages 
in the history of the race, with a few extra flour- 
ishes now and then to indicate the surprises which 
the future may have in store for us. The history 
of civilization becomes, for the initiated, the re- 
hearsal of the intensely interesting drama of the 
nursery and the schoolroom. It lacks the delicacy 


of the finished performance, but it presents the ar- 
gument clearly enough and suggests the necessary 
stage business. The young lady who attempts to 
guide a group of reluctant young cave-dwellers 
from one period in human culture to another is not 
surprised at any of their tantrums. Her only anx- 
iety is lest some form of barbarism appropriate 
to their condition may have been skipped. Her 
chief function is like that of the chorus in the 
Greek tragedy, to explain to the audience each 
dramatic situation as it unfolds. 

I should not like to take the responsibility of 
running such an excellent theory into the ground, 
yet it does seem to me that it might be carried 
further. Granted that childhood is innocent sav- 
agery and that adolescence is gloriously barbaric, 
what is the matter with mature life ^ Does it not 
have any remnants of primitiveness ? Does not 
Tennyson write of " the gray barbarian " ? 

The transitions from primitive savagery to civ- 
ilization which took the race centuries to accom- 
plish are repeated by the individual, not once but 
many times. After we get the knack of it, we can 
run over the alphabet of human progress back- 
wards as well as forwards. 


Exit Troglodyte. Enter Philosopher discours- 
ing on disinterested virtue. Reenter Troglod}te. 
Such dramatic transformations may be expected 
by merely changing the subject of the conversa- 

I remember sitting, one Sunday afternoon, on 
a vine-covered piazza reading to a thoughtful 
and irascible friend. The book was Martineau's 
''Endeavors after the Christian Life." In the 
middle of the second discourse my friend's dog 
rushed into the street to attack the dog of a 
passer-by. It was one of those sudden and 
unpredictable antipathies to which the members 
of the canine race are subject. My friend, in- 
stead of preserving a dignified neutrality, rushed 
into the fray in the spirit of offensive partisanship, 
and instantly became involved in an altercation 
with the gentleman on the sidewalk. Canes were 
brandished, fierce threats were exchanged, and 
only by the greatest efforts were the Homeric he- 
roes separated. Returning to his chair, my friend 
handed me the book, saying, "Now let us go 
on with our religion." The religion went on as 
placidly as aforetime. There was no sense of 
confusion. The wrath of Achilles did not dis- 


turb the calm spirituality of Martineau. Each 
held the centre of the stage for his own moment, 
and there was no troublesome attempt to har- 
monize them. Why should there be? Marti- 
neau was not talking about dogs. 

I know no greater luxury than that of think- 
ing well of my fellow-men. It is a luxury which 
a person in narrow circumstances, who is com- 
pelled to live within the limits of strict veracity, 
sometimes feels to be beyond his means. Yet I 
think it no harm to indulge in a little extrava- 
gance in this direction. The best device for see- 
ing all sorts and conditions of men to advantage 
is to arrange them in their proper chronological 

For years it was the custom to speak dispar- 
agingly of the " poor whites " of our Southern 
mountains. Shut off from the main currents of 
modern life, they seemed unpardonably unpro- 
gressive. They were treated as mere degenerates. 
At last, however, a keener and kindlier observer 
hit upon a happy phrase. These isolated moun- 
taineers, he said, have retained the characteristic 
habits of a former generation. They are our " con- 
temporary ancestors." Instantly everything was 


put in a more favorable light; for we all are dis- 
posed to see the good points in our ancestors. 
After all, the whole offense with which these 
mountain people are charged is that they are be- 
hind the times. In our bona-fide contemporaries 
this is a grave fault, but in our ancestors it is par- 
donable. We do not expect them to live up to 
our standards, and so we give them credit for liv- 
ing up to their own. 

In this case we agree to consider fifty miles of 
mountain roads, if they be sufficiently bad, as the 
equivalent of rather more than a hundred years 
of time. Behind the barrier the twentieth century 
does not yet exist. Many things may still be 
winked at for which the later generation may be 
sternly called to repentance. Then, too, the end 
of the eighteenth century has some good points 
of its own. These contemporary ancestors of ours 
are of good old English stock, and we begin to 
look upon them with a good deal of family 

But when we once accept poor roads as the 
equivalent of the passage of time, putting people 
at the other end into another generation, there is 
no knowing what we may come to in our chari- 


table interpretations. For there are other equally 
effective non-conductors of thought. By the sim- 
ple device of not knowing how to read, a man 
cuts off some thousands of culture years and saves 
himself from no end of intellectual distractions. 
He becomes the contemporary of " earth's vigor- 
ous, primitive sons." If to his illiteracy he adds 
native talent and imagination, there is a chance 
for him to make for himself some of those fine 
old discoveries which we lose because we got the 
answer from some blabbing book before we had 
come to the point of asking the question. Of 
course the danger is that if he has native talent 
and imagination he will learn to read, and it must 
be confessed that for this reason we do not get 
such a high order of illiterates as formerly. 

I once made the acquaintance of an ancient 
Philosopher. His talents were for cosmogony, and 
his equipment would have been deemed ample 
in the days when cosmogony was the fashion. He 
had meditated much on the genesis of things and 
had read nothing, so that his speculations were 
uncontaminated by the investigations of others. 
He was just the man to construct a perfectly simple 
and logical theory of the universe, and he did it. 


His universe was not like that of which our sciences 
give us imperfect glimpses, but it was very satis- 
factory to him. He was very fair in dealing with 
facts; he explained all that could be explained 
by his system. As the only criterion of a fact 
which he recognized was that it agreed with his 
system, there was none left over to trouble him. 
His manner of thought was so foreign to that of 
our time that his intellectual ability was not widely 
appreciated; yet had his birth not been so long 
delayed, he might have been the founder of a 
school and have had books written about him. 
For so far as I could learn, his views of the four 
elements of earth, air, fire, and water, were very 
much like those of the early Greek physicists. 
Had I taken him as a fellow American, I should 
have dismissed him as not up to date; but consid- 
ering him in the light of an ancient sage, I found 
much in him to admire. 

Once upon the coast of Maine I came upon 
a huge wooden cylinder. Within it was a smaller 
one, and in the centre, seated upon a swinging 
platform, was the owner of the curious contrivance. 
He was a mild-eyed, pleasant-spoken man, whom 
it was a pleasure to meet. He explained that this 


was " The Amphibious Vehicle," and that it 
would move equally well on land or sea. 

" You know,'' said he, " what the prophet Eze- 
kiel said about the 'wheel in the middle of a 

" Yes," I answered. 

" W^ell, this is it." 

There was something convincing in this mat- 
ter-of-fact statement. The " wheel within a wheel " 
had been to me little more than a figure of speech, 
but here it was made out of good pine lumber, 
with a plank in the middle for the living crea- 
ture to sit on. It was as if I had fallen through 
a trap door into another age. Here was a literal- 
minded contemporary of Ezekiel, who, having 
heard of the wheel within a wheel, had proceeded 
at once to make one. I ascended into the pre- 
carious seat, and we conversed upon the spiritual 
and temporal possibilities of the vehicle. I found 
that on the scriptural argument he was clearly 
ahead of me, being able to quote chapter and 
verse with precision, while my references were 
rather vague. In the field of mechanics he was 
also my superior. I could not have made the 
vehicle, having not yet emerged beyond the stone 


age. As we talked I forgot that we were at the 
mouth of the Penobscot. We were on the ''river 
of Chebar," and there was no knowmg what might 

The belated philosophers and inventors, who 
think the thoughts of the ancient worthies after 
them, live peaceful lives. What matters it that 
they are separated by a millennium or two from 
the society in which they were fitted to shine ? 
They are self-sufficing, and there are few who 
care to contradict them. It is not so with one 
who is morally belated. There is something pa- 
thetic in the condition of one who cherishes the 
ambition of being a good man, but who has not 
informed himself of the present "state of the art." 

Now and then an ethical revolution takes place. 
New ideals are proclaimed, and in their light all 
things are judged. The public conscience be- 
comes sensitive in regard to courses of conduct 
which heretofore had been unchallenged. Every 
such advance involves a waste in established 
reputations. There are always excellent men who 
are not aware of what has been going on. They 
keep on conforming scrupulously to the old stand- 


ards, being good in the familiar ways that were 
commended in their youth. After a time they 
find themselves in an alien world, and in that 
world they are no longer counted among the best 
people. The tides of moral enthusiasm are all 
against them. The good man feels his solid 
ground of goodness slipping away from under 
him. Time has played false with his moral con- 
ventionalities. He is like a polar bear on a fast- 
diminishing iceberg, growling at the Gulf Stream. 
When a great evil has been recognized by the 
world, there is a revision of all our judgments. A 
new principle of classification is introduced, by 
which we differentiate the goats from the sheep. 
It is hard after that to revive the old admirations. 
The temperance agitation of the last century has 
not abolished drunkenness, but it has made the 
conception of a pious, respectable drunkard seem 
grotesque. It has also reduced the business of 
liquor-selling to a decidedly lower place in the 
esteem of the community. When we read to-day 
of the horrors of the slave trade, we reconstruct in 
our imagination the character of the slave trader, 
— and a brutal wretch he is. But in his day the 
Guinea captain held his own with the best. He 


was a good husband and father, a kind neighbor, 
a generous benefactor. President Ezra Stiles of 
Yale College, in his " Literary Diary," describes 
such a beautiful character. It was when Dr. Stiles 
was yet a parish minister in Newport that one 
of his parishioners died, of whom he wrote : 
" God had blessed him with a good Estate and 
he and his Family have been eminent for Hospi- 
tality to all and Charity to the poor and afflicted. 
At his death he recommended Religion to his 
Children and told them that the world was nothing. 
The only external blemish on his Character was 
that he was a little addicted to the marvelous in 
stories of what he had seen in his Voyages and 
Travels. But in his Dealings he was punctual, 
upright, and honest, and (except as to the Flie in 
the Oynment, the disposition to tell marvelous 
Stories of Dangers, Travels, &c.), in all other 
Things he was of a sober and good moral charac- 
ter, respected and beloved of all, so as to be almost 
without enemies. He was forward in all the con- 
cerns of the Church and Congregation, consulting 
its Benefit and peaceably falling in with the gen- 
eral sense without exciting quarrels, parties, &c., 
and even when he differed from his Brethren he 


so differed from them that they loved him amidst 
the differences. He was a peaceable man and 
promoted Peace." 

It was in 1773 that this good man died in the 
odor of sanctity. It is quite incidentally that we 
learn that " he was for many years a Guinea cap- 
tain, and had no doubt of the slave trade." His 
pastor suggests that he might have chosen an- 
other business than that of " buying and selling 
the human species." Still, in 1773, this did not 
constitute an offense serious enough to be termed 
a fly in the ointment. In 1785, Dr. Stiles speaks 
of the slave trade as "a most iniquitous trade in 
the souls of men." Much may happen in a dozen 
years in changing one's ideas of moral values. In 
another generation the civilized world was agreed 
that the slave trade was piracy. After that there 
were no fine Christian characters among the slave 

There is evidence that at the present time 
there is an awakening of the social conscience 
that threatens as great a revolution as that which 
came with the abolition of the slave trade. Busi- 
ness methods which have been looked upon as 
consistent with high moral character are being 


condemned as '* the sum of all villainies." The 
condemnation is not yet universal, and there are 
still those who are not conscious that anything has 
happened. The Christian monopolist, ruthlessly 
crushing out his competitors and using every trick 
known to the trade, has no more doubts as to the 
rightfulness of his proceedings than had the good 
Newport captain in regard to the slave trade. 

It is a good time to have his obituary written. 
His contemporaries appreciate his excellent pri- 
vate virtues, and have been long accustomed to 
look leniently on his public wrong-doing. The 
new generation, having agreed to call his methods 
robbery, may find the obituary eulogies amusing. 


WE may compare the human mind to a 
city. It has its streets, its places of busi- 
ness and amusement, its citizens of every degree. 
When one person is introduced to another it is 
as if the warder drew back the bolts, and the 
gates were thrown open. If he comes well re- 
commended he is given the freedom of the city. 
In the exercise of this freedom, however, the 
stranger should show due caution. 

There is usually a new quarter. Here the streets 
are well lighted and policed, the crowds are cos- 
mopolitan, and the tourist who wanders about 
looking at the shop windows is sure of a civil 
reply to his questions. There is no danger of 
highway robbers, though of course one may be 
taken in by confidence men. But if he be of an 
inquiring mind and a lover of the picturesque, he 
is not satisfied with this. After all, the new quar- 
ters are very much alike, and one tires after a 


ivhile of shop windows. The visitor longs to ex- 
Dlore the old town, with its winding ways, with 
ts overhanging houses, and its mild suggestions 
3f decay. 

But in the mental city the lover of the pictur- 
esque must remember that he carries his life in 
lis hands. It is not safe to say to a casual ac- 
][uaintance, " Now I have a fair idea of that part 
jf your mind which is like that of any other de- 
cently educated person. I have seen all the spick 
md span show places, and admired all the modern 
mprovements. Where are your ruins? I should 
ike to poke around a while in the more dilapi- 
dated section of your intellect." 

Ah, but that is the Forbidden City. It is in- 
labited, not by orderly citizens, under the rule of 
[light Reason, but by a lawless crowd known as 
:he Prejudices. They are of all sorts and con- 
ditions. Some are of aristocratic lineage. They 
:ome from a long line of hereditary chiefs, who, 
IS their henchmen have deserted them, have re- 
:reated into their crumbling strongholds. Some 
ire bold, roistering blades who will not stand a 
question ; dangerous fellows, these, to meet in the 
dark ! The majority, perhaps, are harmless folk, 


against whom the worst that can be said is that 
they have a knack of living without visible means 
of support. 

A knowledge of human nature, as distinguished 
from a knowledge of moral philosophy, is a per- 
ception of the important part played by instinc- 
tive likes and dislikes, by perverse antipathies, by 
odd ends of thought, by conclusions which have 
got hopelessly detached from their premises — 
if they ever had any. The formal philosopher, 
judging others by himself, works on the assump- 
tion that man is naturally a reasoning animal, 
whereas experience teaches that the craving for 
the reasonable is an acquired taste. 

Of course we all have reasons for our opinions, 
— plenty of them ! But in the majority of cases 
they stand not as antecedents, but as consequents. 
There is a reversal of the rational order like that 
involved in Dr. Hale's pleasant conceit of the 
young people who adopted a grandmother. In 
spite of what intellectual persons say, I do not 
see how we can get along without prejudices. A 
prejudice is defined as "an opinion or decision 
formed without due examination of the facts or 
arguments which are necessary to a just and im- 


partial determination." Now, it takes a good deal 
of time to make a due examination of facts and 
arguments, even in regard to a small matter. In 
the meantime our minds would be sadly unfur- 
nished. If we are to make a fair show in the 
world, we must get our mental furniture when 
we set up housekeeping, and pay for it on the 
installment plan. 

Instead of taking a pharisaic attitude toward 
our neighbor's prejudices, it is better to cultivate 
a wise tolerance, knowing that human intercourse 
is dependent on the art of making allowances. 
This is consistent with perfect honesty. There is 
always something to admire if the critic is suffi- 
ciently discriminating. When you are shown a 
bit of picturesque dilapidation, it is quite possible 
to enjoy it. Said the Hebrew sage, " I went by 
the field of the slothful, and by the vineyard of 
the man void of understanding ; and, lo, it was all 
grown over with thorns, and nettles had covered 
the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was 
broken down. Then I saw, and considered it well: 
I looked upon it, and received instruction." 

His point of view was that of a moralist. Had 
he also been a bit of an artist, the sight of the old 


wall with its tangle of flowering briers would have 
had still further interest. 

When one's intellectually slothful neighbor 
points with pride to portions of his untilled fields, 
we must not be too hard upon him. We also 
have patches of our own that are more pic- 
turesque than useful. Even if we ourselves are 
diligent husbandmen, making ceaseless war on 
weeds and vermin, there are times of relenting. 
Have you never felt a tenderness when the 
ploughshare of criticism turned up a prejudice 
of your own *? You had no heart to harm the 

Wee sleekit, cow*rin', timorous beastie. 

It could not give a good account of itself It had 
been so long snugly ensconced that it blinked 
helplessly in the garish light. Its 

wee-bit housie, too, in ruin ! 
Its silly wa*s the win's are strewin' ! 
And naething now to big a new ane. 

You would have been very angry if any one had 
trampled upon it. 

This is the peculiarity about a prejudice. It is 
very appealing to the person who holds it. A man 
is seldom offended by an attack on his reasoned 


judgments. They are supported by evidence and 
can shift for themselves. Not so with a preju- 
dice. It belongs not to the universal order; it 
is his very own. All the chivalry of his nature is 
enlisted in its behalf He is, perhaps, its only 
defense against the facts of an unfriendly world. 

We cannot get along without making allow- 
ances for these idiosyncrasies of judgment. Con- 
versation is impossible where each person insists 
on going back, all the time, to first principles, 
and testing everything by an absolute standard. 
With a person who is incapable of changing his 
point of view we cannot converse ; we can only 
listen and protest. We are in the position of one 
who, conscious of the justice of his cause, attempts 
to carry on a discussion over the telephone with 
"Central." He only hears an inhuman buzzing 
sound indicating that the line is busy. There is 
nothing to do but to " hang up the 'phone." 

When a disputed question is introduced, one 
may determine the true conversationalist by ap- 
plying the method of Solomon. Let it be pro- 
posed to divide the subject so that each may have 
his own. Your eager disputant will be satisfied, 
your genial talker is aghast at the proposition, for 


he realizes that it would kill the conversation. 
Instead of holding his own, he awaits develop- 
ments. He is in a mood which can be satisfied 
with something less than a final judgment. It is 
not necessary that his friend's opinions should 
be just; it is sufficient that they are characteristic. 
Whatever turn the talk may take, he preserves 
an easy temper. He is a heresy-hunter, — not of 
the grim kind that goes hunting with a gun ; he 
carries only a camera. If he stirs up a strange 
doctrine he does not care to destroy it. When he 
gets a snap-shot at human nature he says, — 

Those things do best please me 
That befall preposterously. 

An English gentleman relates a conversation 
he had with Prince Bismarck. The prince was 
inclined to take a pessimistic view of the English 
people. He thought that there was a degeneration 
in the race, which he attributed to the growing 
habit of drinking water. " Not that he believed 
that there was any particular virtue ^^r se inherent 
in alcoholic drink; but he was sorry to hear that 
the old 'three bottle men' were dying out and 
leaving no successors. He had a suspicion that it 
meant shrinkage in those qualities of the English 


which had made them what they were in the past, 
and for which he had always felt a sincere admi- 


It would have been very easy to drift into 
debate over this proposition. The English gentle- 
man, however, defended his countrymen more 
diplomatically. " I replied that with regard to 
the water-drinking proclivities of my countrymen 
there was a good deal of calumny connected with 
the story. It is true that a certain section of Eng- 
lish society has indeed taken to water as a bev- 
erage. But to argue therefrom that the English 
people have become addicted to water would be 
to draw premature conclusions from insufficient 
data. In this way I was able to calm Prince Bis- 
marck's fears in regard to what the future might 
bring forth, and our conversation reverted to 

Each nation has its own set of preconceptions. 
We must take them altogether, or not at all. 
They are as compact and as natural a growth 
as the concentric layers of an onion. Here is a 
sentence from Max Miiller's " Autobiography," 
thrown out quite incidentally. He has been telling 
how strange it seemed, when first coming to Ox- 


ford, to find that the students got along without 
dueling. Fighting with swords seemed to him the 
normal method of developing manliness, though 
he adds that in the German universities " pistol 
duels are generally preferred by theological stu- 
dents, because they cannot easily get a living if 
the face is scarred all over." 

This remark must be taken as one would take 
a slice of the national onion. One assumption fits 
into another. To an Englishman or an American 
there is an incongruity that approaches the gro- 
tesque, — because our prejudices are different. 
It all becomes a matter-of-fact statement when we 
make the proper assumptions in regard to dueling 
in general and theological duels in particular. 
Assuming that it is necessary for theological stu- 
dents to fight duels, and that the congregations 
are prejudiced against ministers whose faces have 
been slashed by swords, what is left for the poor 
theologues but pistols *? Their method may seem 
more dangerous than that adopted by laymen, but 
Max Miiller explains that the danger is chiefly to 
the seconds. 

Individual peculiarities must be taken into 
account in the same way. Prince Bismarck, in 


dining with the Emperor, inquired the name of 
the brand of champagne, which proved to be a 
cheap German article. " The Emperor explained, 
' I drink it from motives of economy, as I have a 
large family ; then again I drink it from patriotic 
motives/ Thereupon I said to the Emperor, 
' With me, your Majesty, patriotism stops short 
in the region of my stomach.' " 

It is evident that here was a difference not to 
be arbitrated by reason. If the Emperor could 
not understand the gastronomic limitations to the 
Chancellor's patriotism, neither could the Chan- 
cellor enter into the Emperor's anxieties, as he 
economized for the sake of his large family. 

One cannot but wonder at the temerity of a 
person who plunges into conversation with a 
stranger without any preliminary scouting or 
making sure of a line of retreat. Ordinary pru- 
dence would suggest that the first advances should 
be only in the nature of a reconnoissance in force. 
You may have very decided prejudices of your 
own, but it is not certain that they will fraternize 
with those of your new acquaintance. There is 
danger of falling into an ambush. There are pain- 
ful occasions when we remember the wisdom of 


the Son of Sirach : " Many have fallen by the 
edge of the sword, but not so many as have fallen 
by the tongue." The mischief of it is that the 
most kindly intent will not save us. The path of 
the lover of mankind is beset by difficulties for 
which he is not prepared. There are so many an- 
tagonisms that are unpredictable. 

When Nehemiah came to rebuild the walls of 
Jerusalem he remarked grimly, " When Sanballat 
the Horonite, and Tobiah the servant, the Am- 
monite, heard of it, it grieved them exceedingly 
that there was come a man to seek the welfare of 
the children of Israel ; " and the trouble was that 
a large number of the children of Israel themselves 
seem to have resented the interference with their 
habitual misfortunes. The experience of Nehe- 
miah is that of most reformers. One would sup- 
pose that the person who aims at the greatest 
good for the greatest number would be greeted 
with instant applause. The difficulty is that the 
greatest good is just what the greatest number 
will not tolerate. One does not need to believe 
in human depravity to recognize the prejudice 
which most persons have against anything which 
is proposed as good for them. The most success- 


ful philanthropists are those who most skillfully 
conceal their benevolent intent. 

In Coleman's " Life of Charles Reade " there is 
a paragraph which gives us a glimpse of a pre- 
judice that has resisted the efforts of the most 
learned men to eradicate it. An incident is there 
recorded that took place when Reade was a fellow 
in Magdalen College. " Just as I was about to 
terminate my term of office (I hope with credit 
to myself and the 'Varsity), an untoward incident 
occurred which embittered my relations for life 
with two very distinguished men. Professor Gold- 
win Smith and his friend John Conington, who 
belonged to us, had attempted to inaugurate a 
debating society. A handful of unmannerly young 
cubs, resenting the attempt to teach them politi- 
cal economy, ducked poor Conington under the 
college pump." 

" Resenting the attempt to teach them political 
economy ! " — What is the source of that resent- 
ment "? What psychologist has fathomed the abyss 
of the dark prejudice which the natural man has 
against those who would improve his mind ? It 
is a feud which reaches back into hoar antiquity. 
Doubtless the accumulated grievances of genera- 


tions of schoolboys have intensified the feud, but 
no amelioration of educational methods has put 
an end to it. In the most successful teacher you 
may detect a nervous strain like that which the 
trainer of wild beasts in the arena undergoes. His 
is a perilous position, and every faculty must be 
on the alert to hold the momentary ascendency. 
A single false motion, and the unmannerly young 
cubs would be upon their victim. 

Must we not confess that this irrational resent- 
ment against our intellectual benefactors survives, 
in spite of all discipline, into mature life ? We 
may enlarge the area of our teachableness, but there 
are certain subjects in regard to which we do not 
care to be set right. The polite conventionality 
according to which a person is supposed to know 
his own business is an evidence of this sensitive- 
ness. Of course the assumption is not justified by 
facts. A man's own business is just the thing he 
is conscious of not knowing, and he would give 
anything in a quiet way to find out. Yet when 
a candid friend ventures to instruct him, the old 
irrational resentment flashes out. What we call 
tact is the ability to find before it is too late what 
it is that our friends do not desire to learn from 


us. It is the art of withholding, on proper occa- 
sions, information which we are quite sure would 
be good for them. 

The prejudice against our intellectual superiors, 
which leads us to take their well-meant endeavors 
in our behalf as of the nature of personal insults, 
is matched by the equally irrational repulsion 
which many superior people have for their in- 
feriors. Nothing can be more illogical than the 
attitude of these gifted ones who use their gifts 
as bludgeons with which to belabor the rest of us. 
When we read the writings of men who have 
a stimulating sense of their own genius, we are 
struck by their nervous irritability whenever they 
mention" mediocrity." The greater number of the 
quarrels of the authors, which the elder Disraeli 
chronicled, arose from the fact that the authors 
had the habit of accusing one another of this vice. 
One would suppose mediocrity to be the sum of 
all villainies, and that the mediocre man was con- 
tinually plotting in the night watches against the 
innocent man of genius ; and yet what has the 
mediocre man done to deserve this detestation ? 
Poor fellow, he has no malice in him ! His medi- 
ocrity is only an afterthought. He has done his 


level best; his misfortune is that several million 
of his fellowmen have done as well. 

The superior man, especially if his eminence 
be accidental, is likely to get a false notion of 
those who stand on the level below him. The 
biographer of an English dignitary says that the 
subject of his memoir was not really haughty, 
but " he was apt to be prejudiced against any one 
who seemed to be afraid of him." This is a not 
uncommon kind of prejudice ; and in nine cases 
out of ten it is unfounded. The great man should 
remember that most of those whose manners seem 
unduly respectful mean nothing personal. 

As great Pompey passes through the streets of 
Rome, he may be pardoned for thinking meanly 
of the people. They appear to be a subservient 
lot, with no proper interests of their own, their 
happiness dependent on his passing smile, — and 
he knows how little that is worth. He sees them 
at a disadvantage. Let him leave his triumphal 
chariot, and, in the guise of Third Citizen, fall 
into friendly chat with First Citizen and Second 
Citizen, and his prejudices will be corrected. He 
will find that these worthy men have a much 
more independent and self-respecting point of 


view than he had thought possible. They are out 
for a holiday ; they are critics of a spectacle, easily 
pleased, they will admit; but if no one except 
Pompey is to be seen to-day, why not make the 
most of him ? Pompey or Csesar, it matters not ; 
" the play 's the thing." 

The origin of some of our prejudices must be 
sought in the childhood of the race. There are 
certain opinions which have come down from the 
cave-dwellers without revision. They probably at 
one time had reasons to justify them, though we 
have no idea what they were. There are others, 
which seem equally ancient, which originated in 
the forgotten experiences of our own childhood. 
The prehistoric age of myth and fable does not 
lie far behind any one of us. It is as if Gulliver 
had been educated in Lilliput, and, while he had 
grown in stature, had never quite emancipated 
himself from the Lilliputian point of view. The 
great hulking fellow is always awkwardly trying 
to look up at things which he has actually out- 
grown. He tries to make himself believe that 
his early world was as big as it seemed. Some- 
times he succeeds in his endeavors, and the result 
is a curious inversion of values. 


Mr. Morley, in speaking of Lord Palmerston's 
foreign policy, says : " The Sultan's ability to 
speak French was one of the odd reasons why 
Lord Palmerston was sanguine of Turkish civil- 
ization." This association of ideas in the mind 
of the Prime Minister does seem odd till we 
remember that before Lord Palmerston was in 
the cabinet he was in the nursery. The fugitive 
impressions of early childhood reappear in many 
curious shapes. Who would be so hard-hearted 
as to exorcise these guiltless ghosts *? 

Sometimes, in reopening an old book over 
which long ago we had dreamed, we come upon 
the innocent source of some of our long-cherished 
opinions. Such discovery I made in the old 
Family Bible when opening at the pages inserted 
by the publisher between the Old Testament and 
the Apocrypha. On many a Sunday afternoon 
my stated hour of Bible reading was diversi- 
fied by excursions into these uncanonical pages. 
There was a sense of stolen pleasure in the heap 
of miscellaneous secularities. It was like finding 
under the church roof a garret in which one might 
rummage at will. Here were tables of weights and 
measures, explanations about shekels, suggestions 


in regard to the probable length of a cubit, cu- 
rious calculations as to the number of times the 
word "and" occurred in the Bible. Here, also, 
was a mysterious " Table of Offices and Condi- 
tions of Men." 

I am sure that my scheme of admirations, my 
conception of the different varieties of human 
grandeur, has been colored by that " Table of 
Offices and Conditions of Men." It was my 
*' Social Register " and Burke's " Peerage " and 
" Who 's Who ? " all in one. It was a formidable 
list, beginning with the patriarchs, and ending 
with the deacons. The dignity of the deacon I 
already knew, for my uncle was one, but his 
function was vastly exalted when I thought of 
him in connection with the mysterious person- 
ages who went before. There was the " Tirshatha, 
a governor appointed by the kings of Assyria," — 
evidently a very great man. Then there were the 
"Nethinims, whose duty it was to draw water 
and to cleave wood." When I was called upon 
to perform similar services I ventured to think 
that I myself, had I lived in better days, might 
have been recognized as a sort of Nethinim. 

Here, also, I learned the exact age of the world, 


not announced arbitrarily, but with the several 
items all set down, so that I might have verified 
them for myself, had I been mathematically 
gifted. " The whole sum and number of years 
from the beginning of the world unto the present 
year of our Lord 1815 is 5789 years, six months, 
and the said odd ten days." I have no prejudice 
in favor of retaining that chronology as far as the 
thousands are concerned. Five thousand years is 
one way of saying it was a very long time. If the 
geologists prefer to convey the same idea by call- 
ing it millions, I am content ; but I should hate 
to give up the " said odd ten days." 

From the same Table of Offices and Condi- 
tions I imbibed my earliest philosophical preju- 
dices; for there I learned the difference between 
the Stoics and the Epicureans. 

The Stoics were described succinctly as " those 
who denied the liberty of the will." Just what 
this might mean was not clear, but it had an ugly 
sound. The Stoics were evidently contentious 
persons. On the other hand, all that was revealed 
concerning the Epicureans was that they " placed 
all happiness in pleasure." This seemed an emi- 
nently sensible idea. I could not but be favorably 


disposed toward people who managed to get 
happiness out of their pleasures. 

To the excessive brevity of these definitions I 
doubtless owe an erroneous impression concern- 
ing that ancient, and now almost extinct people, 
the Samaritans. The name has had to me a sug- 
gestion of a sinister kind of scholarship, as if the 
Samaritans had been connected with some of the 
black arts. Yet I know nothing in their history 
to justify this impression. The source of the error 
was revealed when I turned again to the " Table 
of Offices and Conditions of Men " and read once 
more, " Samaritans, mongrel professors, half hea- 
then and half Jew." How was I to know that the 
reference was to professors of religion, and not to 
professors of the arts and sciences ? 

As there are prejudices which begin in verbal 
misunderstandings, so there are those which are 
nourished by the accidental collocation of words. 
A noun is known by the adjectives it keeps. 
When we hear of dull conservatism, rabid radi- 
calism, selfish culture, timid piety, smug respecta- 
bility, we receive unfavorable impressions. We 
do not always stop to consider that all that is 
objectionable really inheres in the qualifying 


words. In a well-regulated mind, after every such 
verbal turn there should be a call to change part- 
ners. Let every noun take a new adjective, and 
every verb a new adverb. 

Clever Bohemians, having heard so much of 
" smug respectability," take a dislike to respecta- 
bility. But some of the smuggest persons are not 
respectable at all, — far from it ! Serenely satisfied 
with their own irresponsibility, they look patron- 
izingly upon the struggling world that owes them 
a living. I remember a visit from one of these 
gentry. He called to indicate his willingness to 
gratify my charitable impulses by accepting from 
me a small loan. If I did not believe the story of 
his frequent incarcerations I might consult the 
chaplain of the House of Correction. He evi- 
dently considered that he had a mission. He went 
about offering his hard and impenitent heart as 
a stone on which the philanthropists might whet 
their zeal. Smug respectability, forsooth ! 

From force of habit we speak of the " earnest " 
reformer, and we are apt to be intolerant of his 
lighter moods. Wilberforce encountered this pre- 
judice when he enlivened one of his speeches 
with a little mirth. His opponent seized the 


opportunity to speak scornfully of the honor- 
able gentleman's " religious facetiousness." Wil- 
berforce replied very justly that "a religious man 
might sometimes be facetious, seeing that the 
irreligious did not always escape being dull." 

An instance of the growth of a verbal prejudice 
is that which in certain circles resulted in the 
preaching against what was called " mere moral- 
ity." What the preachers had in mind was true 
enough. They objected to mere morality, as one 
might say, " Mere life is not enough to satisfy us, 
we must have something to live on." They would 
have more than a bare morality. It should be 
clothed with befitting spiritual raiment. But the 
parson's zeal tended to outrun his discretion, and 
forgetting that the true object of his attack was 
the mereness and not the morality, he gave the 
impression that the Moral Man was the great 
enemy of the faith. At last the parishioner would 
turn upon his accuser. " You need not point the 
finger of scorn at me. What if I have done my 
duty to the best of my ability ! You should not 
twit on facts. If it comes to that, you are not in 
a position to throw stones. If I am a moral man, 
you 're another." 


There are prejudices which are the result of 
excessive fluency of speech. The flood of words 
sweeps away all the natural distinctions of 
thought. All things are conceived of under two 
categories, — the Good and the Bad. If one ill 
is admitted, it is assumed that all the rest follow 
in its train. There are persons who cannot men- 
tion " the poor " without adding, " the weak, the 
wretched, the oppressed, the downtrodden, the 
suffering, the sick, the sinful, the erring," and so 
on to the end of the catalogue. This is very dis- 
concerting to a young fellow who, while in the 
best of health and spirits, is conscious that he is 
rather poor. He would willingly admit his pov- 
erty were it not for the fear of being smothered 
under the wet blanket of universal commisera- 

When the category of the Good is adopted 
with the same undiscriminating ardor the results 
are equally unfortunate. We are prejudiced 
against certain persons whom we have never 
met. We have heard nothing but good of them, 
and we have heard altogether too much of that. 
Their characters have been painted in glaring 
virtues that swear at one another. We are sure 


that we should not like such a combination of 
unmitigated excellencies, for human nature ab- 
hors a paragon. And yet the too highly com- 
mended person may, in reality, not be a paragon 
at all, but a very decent fellow. He would quickly 
rise in our regard were it not for the eulogies 
which hang like millstones around his neck. 

It is no easy thing to praise another in such a 
way as to leave a good impression on the mind 
of the hearer. A virtue is not for all times. When 
a writer is too highly commended for being labo- 
rious and conscientious we are not inclined to 
buy his book. His conscience doth make cowards 
of us all. It may be proper to recommend a can- 
didate for a vacant pulpit as indefatigable in his 
pastoral labors ; but were you to add, in the good- 
ness of your heart, that he was equally indefati- 
gable as a preacher, he would say, "An enemy 
hath done this." For the congregation would sus- 
pect that his freedom from fatigue in the pulpit 
was likely to be gained at their expense. 

The prejudices which arise from verbal associa- 
tion are potent in preventing any impartial judg- 
ment of men whose names have become house- 
hold words. The man whose name has become 


the designation of a party or a theory is the help- 
less victim of his own reputation. Who takes 
the trouble to pry into the personal opinions of 
John Calvin ? Of course they were Calvinistic. 
When we hear of the Malthusian doctrine about 
population, we picture its author as a cold- 
blooded, economical Herod, who would gladly 
have ordered a massacre of the innocents. Let 
no one tell us that the Reverend Richard Mal- 
thus was an amiable clergyman, who was greatly 
beloved by the small parish to which he minis- 
tered. In spite of all his church wardens might 
say, we would not trust our children in the hands 
of a man who had suggested that there might be 
too many people in the world. But in such cases 
we should remember that a man's theories do not 
always throw light upon his character. When a 
distinguished physician has a disease named after 
him, it is understood that the disease is the one 
he discovered, and not the one he died of 

When the Darwinian hypothesis startled the 
world, many pious imaginations conceived defi- 
nite pictures of the author of it. These pictures 
had but one thing in common, — their striking 
unlikeness to the quiet gentleman who had made 


all this stir. By the way, Darwin was the inno- 
cent victim of two totally disconnected lines of 
prejudice. After he had outlived the disfavor of 
the theologians, he incurred the contempt of the 
apostles of Culture ; all because of his modest 
confession that he did not enjoy poetry as much 
as he once did. Unfortunately, his scientific habit 
of mind led him to say that he suspected that he 
might be suffering from atrophy of the imagina- 
tive faculty. Instantly every literal-minded reader 
and reviewer exclaimed, " How dreadful I What 
a judgment on him ! " Yet, when we stop to 
think about it, the affliction is not so uncommon 
as to call for astonishment. Many persons suffer 
from it who are not addicted to science. 

After all, these are harmless prejudices. They 
are content with their own little spheres ; they ask 
only to live and let live. There are others, how- 
ever, that are militantly imperialistic. They are 
ambitious to become world powers. Such are 
those which grow out of differences in politics, 
in religion, and in race. 

Political animosities have doubtless been miti- 
gated by freer social intercourse, which gives more 


opportunities for meeting on neutral ground. It 
is only during a heated campaign that we think 
of all of the opposing party as rascals. There is 
time between elections to make the necessary 
exceptions. It is customary to make allowance 
for a certain amount of partisan bias, just as the 
college faculty allows a student a certain num- 
ber of " cuts." It is a just recognition of human 

Our British cousins go farther, and provide 
means for the harmless gratification of natural 
prejudices. There are certain questions on which 
persons are expected to express themselves with 
considerable fervor, and without troubling them- 
selves as to the reasonableness of their contention. 
In a volume of published letters I was pleased 
to read one from a member of the aristocracy. 
He had been indulging in trivial personalities, 
when suddenly he broke off with " Now I must 
go to work on the Wife's Sister's Question ; I 
intend to make a good stout protest against that 
rascally bill ! " There is no such exercise for the 
moral nature as a good stout protest. We Amer- 
icans take our exercise spasmodically. Instead 
of going about it regularly, we wait for some 


extraordinary occasion. We make it a point of 
sportsmanship to shoot our grievance on the 
wing, and we are nervously anxious lest it get 
out of range before we have time to take aim. 

Not so the protesting Briton. He approves of 
the answer of Jonah when he was asked, " Doest 
thou well to be angry for the gourd ? " Jonah, 
without any waste of words, replied, " I do well 
to be angry." When the Englishman feels that 
it is well for him to be angry, he finds constitu- 
tional means provided. Parliament furnishes a 
number of permanent objects for his disapproval. 
Whenever he feels disposed he can make a good 
stout protest, feeling assured that his indigna- 
tion is well bestowed. He has such satisfaction as 
that which came to Mr. Micawber in reading his 
protest against the villainies of Uriah Heep : 
" Much afflicted but still intensely enjoying him- 
self, Mr. Micawber folded up the letter and 
handed it with a bow to my aunt, as something 
she might like to keep." 

These stout-hearted people have learned not 
only how to take their pleasures sadly, but, what 
is more to the purpose, how to take their sad- 
nesses pleasantly. We Americans have, here. 


something to learn. We should get along better 
if we had a number of argument-proof questions 
like that in regard to marriage with the deceased 
wife's sister which could be warranted to recur at 
regular intervals. They could be set apart as a 
sort of public playground for the prejudices. It 
would at least keep the prejudices out of mis- 

Religious prejudice has an air of singularity. 
The singular thing is that there should be such 
a variety. If we identify religion with the wis- 
dom that is from above, and which is " first pure, 
then peaceable, easy to be entreated, without 
partiality," it is hard to see where the prejudice 
comes in. Religious prejudice is a compound of 
religion and several decidedly earthly passions. 
The combination produces a peculiarly danger- 
ous explosive. The religious element has the 
same part in it that the innocent glycerine has in 
nitro-glycerine. This latter, we are told, is " a 
compound produced by the action of a mixture 
of strong nitric and sulphuric acids on glycerine 
at low temperatures." It is observable that in the 
making of religious prejudice the religion is kept 
at a very low temperature, indeed. 



We are at present in an era of good feeling. 
Not only is there an interchange of kindly offices 
between members of different churches, but one 
may detect a tendency to extend the same toler- 
ance to the opposing party in the same church. 
This is a real advance, for it is always more diffi- 
cult to do justice to those who differ from us 
slightly than to those whose divergence is funda- 
mental. To love our friends is a work of nature, 
to love our enemies is a work of grace ; the 
troublesome thing is to get on with those who 
are " betwixt and between." In such a case we 
are likely to fall between nature and grace as be- 
tween two stools. Almost any one can be mag- 
nanimous in great affairs, but to be magnanimous 
in trifles is like trying to use a large screw-driver 
to turn a small screw. 

In a recently published correspondence be- 
tween dignitaries of the Church of England I 
find many encouraging symptoms. The writers 
exhibit a desire to do justice not only to the 
moral, but also to the intellectual, gifts of those 
who differ from them even slightly. There is, of 
course, enough of the old Adam remaining to 
make their judgments on one another interesting 


reading. It is pleasant to see brethren dwelling 
together in unity, — a pleasure seldom prolonged 
to the point of satiety. Thus the Dean of Nor- 
wich writes to the Dean of Durham in regard to 
Dean Stanley. Alluding to an opinion, in a pre- 
vious letter, in regard to Archbishop Tait, the 
writer says : " I confess I should n't have ranked 
him among the great men of the day. Of our 
contemporaries I should have assigned that rank, 
without hesitation, to little Stan, though I quite 
think he did more mischief in our church and to 
religion than most men have it in them to do. 
Still I should say that little Stan was a great man 
in his way." There you may see a mind that has, 
with considerable difficulty, uprooted a prejudice, 
though you may still perceive the place where 
the prejudice used to be. 

While the methods of the exact sciences have 
had a discouraging effect on partisan and sectarian 
prejudices, they seem, for the moment, to have 
given new strength to those which are the result 
of differences in race. Time was when Anti-Sem- 
itism derived its power from religious rancor. 
The cradle hymn which the Puritan mother sang 
began sweetly, — 


Hush, my dear, lie still and slumber ! 
Holy angels guard thy bed ! 

But after a while the mother thinks of the wicked- 
ness of the Jews : — 

Yet to read the shameful story 

How the Jews abused their King, 

How they served the Lord of Glory, 
Makes me angry while I sing. 

In these days, the Anti-Semites are not so 
likely to be angry while they sing, as while they 
cast up their accounts. 

The natural sciences discriminate between 
classes rather than between individuals. Sociology 
deals with groups, and not with persons. Anthro- 
pology acquaints us with the aboriginal and un- 
moralized man. It emphasizes the solidarity of 
the clan and the persistence of the cult. Experi- 
mental psychology is at present interested in the 
sub-conscious and instinctive life. For its purpose 
it treats a man as a series of nervous reactions. 
Human history is being rewritten as a branch of 
Natural History. Eliminating the part played by 
personal will, it exhibits an age-long warfare be- 
tween nations and races. 


This is all very well so long as we remember 
what it is that we are studying. Races, cults, and 
social groups exist and have their history. There 
is no harm in defining the salient characteristics 
of a race, and saying that, on the whole, one race 
is inferior to another. The difficulty comes when 
this rough average is made the dead line beyond 
which an individual is not allowed to pass. 

In our Comedy of Errors, which is always slip- 
ping into tragedy, there are two Dromios on the 
stage, — the Race and the Individual. The Race 
is an abstraction which can bear any amount of 
punishment without flinching. You may say any- 
thing you please about it and not go far wrong. 
It is like criticising a composite photograph. 
There is nothing personal about it. Who is 
offended at the caricatures of Brother Jonathan 
or of John Bull ? We recognize certain persist- 
ent national traits, but we also recognize the ele- 
ment of good-humored exaggeration. The Jew, 
the Slav, the Celt, the Anglo-Saxon have existed 
for ages. Each has admired himself, and been 
correspondingly disliked by others. Even the 
Negro as a racial abstraction is not sensitive. You 
may, if you will, take up the text, so much quoted 


a generation ago, " Cursed be Canaan ; a servant 
of servants shall he be. . . . God shall enlarge 
Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem ; 
and Canaan shall be his servant." Dromio Africa- 
nus listens unmoved to the exegesis of Petroleum 
V. Nasby and his compeers at the Crossroads: 
"God cust Canaan, and sed he shood be a ser- 
vant forever. Did he mean us to pay him wages ^ 
Not eny : for ef he hed he wood hev ordered 
our tastes and habits so es we shood hev hed 
the wherewithal to do it." 

The impassive Genius of Africa answers the 
Anglo-Saxon : " If it pleases you to think that 
your prejudice against me came out of the Ark, 
so be it. If you find it agreeable to identify your- 
self with Japheth who shall providentially be 
enlarged, I may as well be Canaan." 

So long as the doctrinaires of the Crossroads 
are dealing only with highly generalized concep- 
tions no harm is done. But now another Dromio 
appears. He is not a race; he is a person. He 
has never come that way before, and he is bewil- 
dered by what he sees and hears. Immediately he 
is beset by those who accuse him of crimes which 
some one who looks like him has committed. He 


is beaten because he does not know his place ; 
how can he know it, stumbling as he does upon 
a situation for which he is altogether unprepared ? 
It is an awkward predicament, this of being born 
into the world as a living soul. Under the most 
favorable conditions it is hard for the new arrival 
to find himself, and adjust himself to his en- 
vironment. But this victim of mistaken identity 
finds that he has been judged and condemned 
already. When he innocently tries to make the 
most of himself a great uproar is created. What 
right has he to interfere with the preconceived 
opinions of his betters'? They understand him, 
for have they not known him for many genera- 
tions ? 

Poor man Dromio! Whether he have a black 
skin or a yellow, and whatever be the racial type 
which his features suggest, the trouble is the same. 
He is sacrificed on the altar of our stupidity. 
He suffers because of our mental color-blindness, 
which prevents our distinguishing persons. We 
see only groups, and pride ourselves on our de- 
fective vision. By and by we may learn to be a 
little ashamed of our crudely ambitious generali- 
zations. A finer gift is the ability to know a man 


when we see him. It may be that Nature is 
" careful of the type," and " careless of the single 
life." If that be so, it may be the part of wisdom 
for us to give up some of our anxieties about the 
type, knowing that Nature will take care of that. 
Such relief from excessive cosmic responsibility 
will give us much more time for our proper work, 
which is to deal justly with each single life. 


MY friend Scholasticus was in a bad way. 
He had been educated before the elective 
system came in, and he had a pathetic veneration 
for the old curriculum. It was to him the sacred 
ark, now, alas, carried away into the land of the 
Philistines. He cherished it as a sort of creed 
containing the things surely to be learned by a 
gentleman, and whoso hath not learned these 
things, let him be anathema. In meeting the 
present-day undergraduates, it was hard to say 
which amazed him most, the things they knew 
or the things they did not know. Perhaps the 
new knowledge seemed to him the more uncouth. 
" The intellectual world," he would say, " is 
topsy-turvy. What is to be expected of a gener- 
ation that learns to write before it learns to read, 
and learns to read before it learns to spell, — or 
rather which never does learn to spell. Everything 
begins wrong end foremost. In my day small chil- 


dren were supposed to be ' pleased with a rattle, 
tickled with a straw,' until such time as they were 
old enough to be put to stiff work on the First 
Reader. Nowadays, the babes begin with the 
esoteric doctrine of their playthings. Even the 
classics of infancy are rationalized. I was about to 
buy a copy of ' Mother Hubbard and her Dog ' 
for a dear young friend, when I discovered that it 
was a revised version. The most stirring incident 
was given thus, — 

She went to the baker* s to buy some bread. 
And when she came back the dog looked dead. 

That was n't the way the tale was told to me. I 
was told that the poor dog was dead, and I be- 
lieved it. That did n't prevent my believing a 
little while after that the doggie was dancing a jig. 
I took it for granted that that was the way dogs 
did in Mother Hubbard's day. Nowadays, the 
critics in bib and tucker insist that the story must 
conform to what they have prematurely learned 
about the invariable laws of nature. 

" I should n't mind this if they kept on reason- 
ing. But it 's a false start. After the wide gen- 
eralizations of infancy have been forgotten, the 
youth begins to specialize. He takes a small slice 


of a subject, ignoring its more obvious features 
and its broader outlines. He has a contempt for 
general ideas. What we studied, he takes for 
granted. He 's very observing, but he does n't 
put two and two together. There they stand in 
his mind, two separate ideas, politely ignoring one 
another, because they have not been properly in- 
troduced. The result of all this is evident enough. 
How many people do you come across with 
whom it is a pleasure to hold an argument ? Not 
many ! They don't know the rules of the game. 
You can't enter a drawing-room without hearing 
questions discussed in a way possible only to those 
whose early education in the art of reasoning had 
been neglected. The chances are that every one 
of the fallacies we learned about in Whately could 
appear in good society without anybody being 
able to call them by their Latin names. 

" ' Does n't this follow from that ^ ' the facile 
talker asks, as if that were all that is necessary to 
constitute a valid argument. Of course it follows ; 
his assertions follow one another like a flock of 
sheep. But what short work our old Professor 
would have made with these plausible sequences ! 

" What a keen scent the old man had for fal- 


lacies ! Even when the conclusion was obviously 
sound, he insisted that we should come by it hon- 
estly. He would never admit that in such mat- 
ters the end justifies the means. I remember his 
merciless exposure of the means by which some 
unscrupulous metaphysicians accumulated their 
intellectual property. His feeling about the ' Un- 
distributed Middle ' was much the same as that 
of Henry George about the ' Unearned Incre- 
ment.' How he used to get after the moonshiners 
who were distilling arguments by the illicit pro- 
cess of the major term I In these days the illicit 
process goes on openly. The growth of the real 
sciences does not in the least discourage the pseudo- 
sciences. It rather seems to stimulate them. 

" For many persons, a newly discovered fact is 
simply a spring-board from which they dive into 
a bottomless sea of speculation. They pride 
themselves on their ability to jump at conclusions, 
forgetting that jumping is an exercise in which 
the lower orders excel their betters. If an ele- 
phant could jump as far, in proportion to his 
weight, as a flea, there would be no holding him 
on the planet. Every new discovery is followed 
by a dozen extravagances, engineered by the Get- 


wise-quick people. There is always some Young 
Napoleon of Philosophy who undertakes to cor- 
ner the truth-market. It 's like what happened at 
the opening of Oklahoma Territory. Before the 
day set by the government when they all were to 
start fair in their race for farms, a band of adven- 
turers called ' Sooners ' smuggled themselves 
across the line. When the bona fide settler ar- 
rived on his quarter-section, he found an impu- 
dent Sooner in possession. You can't find any 
fresh field of investigation that is n't claimed by 
these Sooners. It all comes because people are 
no longer educated logically." 

When Scholasticus was in this mood, it was 
difficult to do anything with him. It was in vain 
to tell him that he was narrow, for, like all nar- 
row men, he took that as a compliment. It is 
the broad way, he reminded me, that leads to in- 
tellectual destruction. Still, I attempted to bring 
him to a better frame of mind. 

" Scholasticus," said I, " the old order changes. 
You are a survivor of another period. You were 
educated according to a logical order. You 
learned to spell out of a Spelling Book, and to 


read out of a Reader, and to write not by fol- 
lowing the dictates of your own conscience, but 
by following the copy in a Copy Book; and 
you learned to speak correctly by committing to 
memory the rules of grammar and afterwards the 

" And it was a good way, too," interrupted 
Scholasticus. " It gave us a respect for law and 
order, to learn the rules and to abide by them. 
Now, I understand, they don't have grammar, but 
' language work.' The idea is, I suppose, that if 
the pupils practice the exceptions they need n't 
bother about the rules. When I studied geogra- 
phy, we began with a definition of the word geo- 
graphy, after which we were told that the earth 
is a planet, and that three fourths of its surface 
is water, a fact which I have never forgotten. 
Nowadays they hold that geography, like charity, 
should begin at home, so the first thing is to make 
a geodetic survey of the back yard. By the time 
they work up to the fact that the earth is a planet, 
the pupils have learned so many other things that 
it makes very little impression on their minds." 

" Scholasticus," said I, " I was saying the old 
order changes lest one good custom should cor- 


rupt the educational world. They were great 
people for rules in your day. It was an inherit- 
ance from the past. You remember the anecdote 
of Ezekiel Cheever, head master of the Boston 
Latin School, who taught Cotton Mather Latin. 
A pupil writes, ' My master found fault with the 
syntax of one word, which was not so used heed- 
lessly, but designedly, and therefore I told him 
there was a plain grammar rule for it. He angrily 
replied that there was no such rule. I took the 
grammar and showed the rule to him. Then he 
said, " Thou art a brave boy. I had forgot the 
rule." ' That takes us back to a time when there 
was a superstitious reverence for rules. We don't 
reason so rigidly from rules now, we develop the 
mind according to a chronological rather than a 
logical order. We let the ideas come according 
to the order of nature." 

At this, the wrath of Scholasticus bubbled over. 
" ' The order of nature ' ! The nature of what ? 
A cabbage head grows according to an order nat- 
ural to cabbages. But a rational intelligence is de- 
veloped according to the laws of reason. The first 
thing is to formulate the laws, and then to obey 
them. Logic has to do with the laws of rational 


thought, just as grammar has to do with the laws 
of correct speech. Nowadays, the teacher seems 
to be afraid of laying down the law. I visited a 
model school the other day. It was n't a school 
at all, according to the definition in the old-fash- 
ioned book I used to read : ' A school is a place 
where children go to study books. The good 
children when they have learned their lessons go 
out to play, the idle remain and are punished.' 
According to the modern method, it is the teacher 
who must remain to be punished for the idleness 
of her pupils. It 's her business to make the les- 
sons interesting. If their attention wanders, she 
is held responsible. The teacher must stay after 
hours and plan new strategic moves. She must 
'by indirections find directions out,' — while the 
pupil is resisting one form of instruction, she sud- 
denly teaches him something else. In this way 
the pupil's wits are kept on the run. No mat- 
ter how they scatter, there is the teacher before 

" Why is not that a good way ? " I said. " It 
certainly brings results. The pupil gets on rap- 
idly. He learns a lesson before he knows it." 

" He never does know it," growled Scholas- 


ticus. " And what 's worse, he does n't know that 
he does n't know it. By this painless method he 
has never been compelled to charge his mind 
with it and to reason it out. And besides, it 's 
death on the teacher. Ezekiel Cheever taught 
that Boston Latin School till he was over ninety 
years old, and never had a touch of nervous pros- 
tration. He did n't have to lie awake planning 
how to hold the rapt attention of his pupils. If 
there was any chance of the grammar rules not 
being learned, he let them do the worrying. It 
was good for them. There was a race of sturdy 
thinkers in those days. They knew how to deal 
with knotty problems. If they survived the school, 
they could not be downed in the town meeting." 
" Scholasticus," I said, " I don't like the way 
you talk. The trouble with you is that you took 
your education too hard. I fancy that I see every 
lesson you ever learned sticking out of your con- 
sciousness like the piles of stones in a New Hamp- 
shire pasture. They are monuments of industry, 
but they lack a certain suavity. You are doing 
what most Americans do, — whenever they find 
anything wrong they lay the blame on the public 
schools. Just because some of the younger men 


at your club argue somewhat erratically, you 
blame the whole modern system of education. 
It 's a way you clever people have, — you are not 
content with one good and sufficient reason for 
your statement of fact. You must reinforce it by 
another of a more general character. It makes me 
feel as I do when, a faucet needing a new washer, 
I send for a plumber, — and behold twain ! One 
would be enough, if he would attend strictly to 
business. Every system has its failures. If that 
of the present day seems to have more than its 
share, it is because its failures are still in evidence, 
while those of your generation are mostly forgot- 
ten. Oblivion is a deft housemaid, who tidies up 
the chambers of the Past, by sweeping all the 
dust into the dark corners. On the other hand, 
you drop into the Present amid the disorder of 
the spring cleaning, when everything is out on 
the line. If you could recall the shining lights in 
your Logic class, you might admit that some of 
them had the form of reasoning without the power 
thereof It was in your day, was n't it, that the criti- 
cism was made on the undergraduate thesis : — 

Although he wrote it all by rote. 
He did not write it right. 


I could n't help thinking of those lines when I was 
listening just now to your reasoning. The real 
point, Scholasticus, is this, which seems to have 
escaped you. You talk of the laws of the mind. 
When you were in college it seemed a very sim- 
ple thing to formulate these laws. There was no 
Child Psychology, giving way before you knew 
it to Adolescence, where everything was quite dif- 
ferent. There was no talk about subliminal con- 
sciousness, where you could n't tell which was 
consciousness and which was something else. The 
mind in your day came in one standard size." 

"Yes," said Scholasticus, "when we were in 
the Academy, we had Watts on the Mind. Watts 
treated his subject in a straightforward way; he 
had nothing about nervous reactions ; he gave us 
plain Mind. When we got into college we had 
Locke on the Understanding. When it was time 
to take account of conscience, we had Paley's 
'Moral Science.' This, with the ' Evidences,' made 
a pretty good preparation for life." 

" So it did," I said, " and you have done credit 
to your training. But since that time Psycholo- 
gists have made a number of discoveries which 
render it necessary to revise the old methods." 


Seeing that he, for the first time, was giving 
me his attention, I thought that it might be pos- 
sible to win him away from that futile and acrid 
criticism of the present course of events^ which is 
the besetting sin of men of his age, to the more 
fruitful criticism by creation. 

" Scholasticus," I said, " here is your oppor- 
tunity. You complain that Logic is going out. 
The trouble is that it has been taught in an anti- 
quated way. The logicians followed the analogy 
of mathematics. They invented all sorts of formal 
figures and diagrams, and were painfully abstract. 
When you were learning to reason, you had to 
commit to memory a formula like this : ' Every 
y is X ; every z is y ; therefore every z is x. E.g.^ 
let the major term (which is represented by x) be 
" One who possesses all virtue," the minor term 
(z) " Every man who possesses one virtue," and 
the middle term (y) " Every man who possesses 
prudence," and you have the celebrated argument 
of Aristotle that " the virtues are inseparable." ' 

" Now you can't make the youth of this gen- 
eration submit to that kind of argumentation. 
They are willing to admit the virtues are insep- 
arable, if you say so, but they are not going to 


take time to figure it out. You can't arouse their 
interest by demonstrating that ' If A is B, C is D, 
C is not D, therefore A is not B.' They say, 
' What of it ? ' They refuse to concern them- 
selves about the fate of letters of the alphabet. 
Such methods prejudice them against Logic. 
They prefer not to reason at all, rather than do it 
in such an old-fashioned way. Besides, they have 
peeped into the Psychology for Teachers, and 
they know their rights. Such teaching is not good 
pedagogics. The youthful mind must be shielded 
from abstractions ; if it is not, there 's no knowing 
what might happen. It will not do to go at your 
subject in such a brutal way. This is the age of 
the concrete and the vital. Things are observed 
in the state of nature. The birds must be in the 
bush, and the fishes in the water, and the flow- 
ers must be caught in the very act of growing. 
That's what makes them interesting. If the 
youthful mind is to be induced to love Nature, 
Nature must do her prettiest for the youthful 
mind. Otherwise it will be found that the mental 
vacuum abhors Nature. 

" If there is to be a revival of Logic, it must 
be attached to something in which people are 


already interested. People are interested in bio- 
logical processes. They like to see things grow, 
and to help in the process as far as they can with- 
out disturbing Nature. Why don't you, Scho- 
lasticus, try your hand at a text-book which shall 
insinuate a sufficient knowledge of the principles 
of sound reasoning, under the guise of Botany 
or Hygiene or Physical Culture, or some of the 
branches that are more popular ? I believe that 
you could make a syllogism as interesting as any- 
thing else. All you have to do is to make people 
think that it is something else." 

At the time Scholasticus only sniffed scornfully 
at my suggestion ; but not many days had passed 
before I began to notice a change in his demeanor. 
Instead of his usual self-sufficiency, there came 
into his eyes a wistful plea for appreciation. He 
had the chastened air of one who no longer sits 
in the chair of the critic, but is awaiting the mo- 
ment when he shall endure criticism. 

From such signs as these I inferred that Scho- 
lasticus was writing a book. There is nothing 
that so takes the starch out of a man's intellect 
and reduces him to a state of abject dependence 
on the judgment of his fellow beings as writing a 


book. For the first question about a book is not, 
"Is it good?" but, "Will anybody read it'?" 
When this question is asked, the most common- 
place individual assumes a new importance. He 
represents the Public. The Author wonders as to 
what manner of man he is. Will he like the Book ? 

I was not therefore surprised when one day 
Scholasticus, in a shamefaced way, handed me 
the manuscript of a work entitled, " How to Know 
the Fallacies ; or Nature-Study in Logic." 

In these pages Scholasticus shows a sincere 
desire to adapt himself to a new order of things. 
He no longer stands proudly on the quarter-deck 
of the good ship Logic, with a sense of fathomless 
depths of rationality under the keel. Logic is a 
poor old stranded wreck. His work is like that 
of the Swiss Family Robinson : to carry off the 
necessities of life and the more portable luxuries, 
and to use them in setting up housekeeping on 
the new island of Nature-Study. 

I cannot say that he has been entirely success- 
ful in making the art of reasoning a pleasant out- 
of-door recreation. He has not altogether over- 
come the stiffness which is the result of his early 
education. In treating thought as if it were a 


vegetable, he does not always conceal the fact 
that it is not a vegetable. There are, therefore, 
occasional jolts as he suddenly changes from one 
aspect of his subject to another. 

I was, however, much pleased to see that, in- 
stead of ambitiously attempting to treat of the 
processes of valid reasoning, he has been content 
to begin with those forms of argumentation which 
are more familiar. 

His preface does what every good preface 
should do : it presents the Author not at his worst 
nor at his best, but in a salvable condition, so that 
the reader will say, " He is not such a bad fellow, 
after all, and doubtless when he gets warmed up 
to his work he will do better." It may be as 
well to quote the Preface in full. 

"Careless Reader, in the intervals between 
those wholesome recreations which make up the 
more important portion of life, you may have 
sometimes come upon a thought. It may have 
been only a tiny thoughtlet. Slight as it was in 
itself, it was worthy of your attention, for it was 
a living thing. Pushing its way out of the fertile 
soil of your subconscious being, it had come 
timidly into the light of day. If it seemed to you 


unusual, it was only because you have not culti- 
vated the habit of noticing such things. They are 
really very common. 

" If you can spare the time, let us sit down to- 
gether and pluck up the thoughtlet by the roots 
and examine its structure. You may find some 
pleasure, and perhaps a little profit, in these native 
growths of your mind. 

" When you take up a thought and pull it to 
pieces, you will see that it is not so simple as it 
seems. It is in reality made up of several thoughts 
joined together. When you try to separate them, 
you find it difficult. The connective tissue which 
binds them together is called inference. When 
several thoughts growing out of the same soil are 
connected by inference, they form what is called 
an argument. Arguments, as they are found in 
the state of Nature, are of two kinds ; those that 
hang together, and those that only seem to hang 
together ; these latter are called Fallacies. 

" In former times they were treated as mere 
weeds and were mercilessly uprooted. In these 
days we have learned to look upon them with a 
kindlier eye. They have their uses, and serve to 
beautify many a spot that otherwise would remain 


barren. They are the wild flowers of the intellec- 
tual world. I do not intend to intrude my own 
taste or to pass judgment on the different varie- 
ties ; but only to show my readers how to know 
the fallacies when they see them. It may be said 
that mere nomenclature is of little value. So it 
is in itself; yet there is a pleasure in knowing the 
names of the common things we meet every day. 
The search for fallacies need never take one far 
afield. The collector may find almost all the 
known varieties growing within his own enclo- 

" Let us then go out in the sunshine into the 
pleasant field of thought. There we see the argu- 
ments — valid and otherwise — as they are grow- 
ing. You will notice that every argument has 
three essential parts. First is the root, called by 
the old logicians in their crabbed language the 
Major Premise. Growing quite naturally out of 
this is the stem, called the Minor Premise ; and 
crowning that is the flower, with its seed vessels 
which contain the potentialities of future argu- 
ments, — this is called the Conclusion. 

" Let the reader observe this argument : ' Every 
horse is an animal ; ' that is the root thought. 


' Sheep are not horses ; ' that is the stem shooting 
into the air. ' Therefore, sheep are not animals ; ' 
that is the conclusion, the full corn in the ear. 

" There is a pleasing impression of naturalness 
about the way in which one thought grows out of 
that which immediately preceded it. There is a 
sudden thrill when we come to the ' therefore,' 
the blossoming time of the argument. We feel 
that we are entering into one of Nature's secret 
processes. Unless our senses are deceiving us, we 
are actually reasoning. 

" After a while, when curiosity and the pride of 
possession lead us to look more carefully at our 
treasure, we are somewhat surprised. It is not as 
it seemed. A little observation convinces us that, 
in spite of our argumentation, sheep are animals, 
and always have been. Thus, quite by accident, 
and through the unaided exercise of our own fac- 
ulties, we have come upon one of the most an- 
cient forms of reasoning, one that has engaged 
the attention of wise men since Aristotle, — a fal- 

In the opening chapters, Scholasticus gives a 
description of the more common fallacies, with 
an account of their habits of growth and of the 


soils in which they most flourish. " Petitio Princi- 
piiy or begging the question. This is a very pretty 
little fallacy of vine-like habit. It is found grow- 
ing beside old walls, and wherever it is not likely 
to be disturbed. It is easily propagated from slips, 
each slip being capable of indefinite multiplica- 
tion, the terminal buds sending down new roots, 
and the process of growth going on continuously. 
So tenacious is it that it is practically impossible 
to eradicate the petitio^ when once it has fairly 
established itself. It recommends itself on the 
ground of economy. In most arguments the at- 
tempt is made to prove one thing by means of 
another thing. This, of course, involves a con- 
siderable waste of good material. In begging the 
question, by means of one proposition we are 
enabled to prove a proposition that is identical 
with it. In this way an idea may be made to go 
a long way. 

" The most familiar variety of this fallacy is that 
known as the Argument in a Circle. To those 
who are fond of arguments, but who can afford 
very little mind space for their cultivation, this 
is an almost ideal fallacy. It requires only the 
slightest soil, deriving its nutriment almost wholly 


from the air, and reproducing itself without the 
slightest variation in type. 

" Its hardiness and exuberant efflorescence 
make it desirable for many purposes. It is useful as 
a screen to hide the more unsightly parts of one's 
intellectual grounds. Often, too, there may be an 
argumentative structure that has fallen into decay. 
Its real reason for existence is no longer obvious, 
yet it may have associations which make us re- 
luctant to tear it down. In such a case, nothing 
is easier than to plant a slip of the circular argu- 
ment. In a short time the old ruin becomes a 
bower, covered with an exuberant efflorescence 
of rationality. This argument is to be recom- 
mended for a Woman's Hardy Garden of Fal- 

" It is one which gives great pleasure to a home- 
loving person who finds satisfaction in that which 
is his own. Often have I seen a householder sit- 
ting under its sweet shade, well content. He was 
conscious of having an argument which answered 
to all his needs, and which protected him alike 
from the contradiction of sinners and from the 
intrusive questioning of the more critical sort of 
saints. He had such satisfaction as came to Jonah, 


when the booth he had constructed, with such 
slight skill as belonged to an itinerant preacher, 
was covered by the luxuriant gourd vine. Things 
were not going as he had expected in Nineveh, 
and current events were discrediting his prophe- 
cies, but Jonah ' rejoiced with great joy over the 

" I may be pardoned, in treating the circular 
argument, for deviating, for a moment, from the 
field of botany into the neighboring field of zool- 
ogy. For after all, the same principles hold good 
there also, and as we are forming the habit of 
looking at thought as a kind of plant, we may also 
consider it as a kind of animal, — let us say, if 
you please, a goldfish. You have often paused 
to watch the wonders of marine life as epitomized 
in a glass globe upon your centre-table. Those 
who go down to the sea in ships have doubtless 
seen more of the surface of waters, but they have 
not the same facilities for looking into its interior 
life that you have in your aquarium. A school 
of goldfishes represent for you the finny monsters 
of the deep. You see the whole world they move 
in. The encircling glass is the firmament in the 
midst of the waters. The goldfishes go round 


and round, and have a very good time, and have 
many adventures, but they never get out of their 
crystal firmament. You may leave them for half 
a day, but when you come back you know just 
where to find them. An aquarium is a much safer 
place for goldfishes to swim in than the ocean ; 
to be sure, they do not get on far, but on the 
other hand they do not get lost, and there are no 
whales or even herrings, to make them afraid. 
There is the same advantage in doing our reason- 
ing in a circle. We can keep up an argument 
much longer when we are operating in friendly 
waters and are always near our base of supplies. 
The trouble with thinking straight is, that it is 
likely to take us too far from home. The first we 
know we are facing a new issue. From this peril 
we are saved by the habit of going round and 
round. He who argues and runs away from the 
real difficulty lives to argue another day, and 
the best of it is the argument will be just the 

" Argumentum ad Hominem. This is a large fam- 
ily, containing many interesting varieties. The 
ad hominem is of parasitic growth, a sort of logi- 
cal mistletoe. It grows not out of the nature of 


things, but of the nature of the particular mind to 
which it is addressed. In the cultivation of this 
fallacy it is only necessary to remember that each 
mind has its weak point. Find out what this weak 
point is, and drop into it the seed of the appropri- 
ate fallacy, and the result will exceed your fond- 
est anticipation. 

"Again with the reader's kind permission, I will 
stray from the field of botany ; this time into that 
of personal experience. At the risk of falling into 
obsolete and discredited methods of instruction, I 
will ask you for the moment to look in and not 

" Dear Reader, often, when reasoning with 
yourself, especially about your own conduct, you 
have found comfort in a syllogism like this : — 

I like to do right. 

I do what I like. 

Therefore, I do what is right. 
The conclusion is so satisfactory that you have 
no heart to look too narrowly at the process by 
which it is attained. When you do what you 
like, it is pleasant to think that righteousness is a 
by-product of your activity. Moreover, there is a 
native generosity about you which makes you 


willing to share with others the more lasting bene- 
fits which may ensue. You are ready to believe 
that what is profitable to you must also be profit- 
able to them in the long run, — if not in a mate- 
rial, then in a spiritual way. All the advantage 
that comes to you is merely temporary and per- 
sonal. When you have reaped this scanty har- 
vest, you do not begrudge to humanity in general 
its plentiful gleanings. In your altruistic mood 
you do not consider too carefully the particular 
blessing which your action has bestowed on the 
world ; you are content with the thought that it 
is a good diffused. 

" When out of what is in the beginning only 
a personal gratification there grows a cosmic law, 
we have the Argumentum ad Hominem. There are 
few greater pleasures in life than that of having all 
our preferences justified by our reason. There are 
some persons who are so susceptible to arguments 
of this kind that they never suffer from the sensa- 
tion of having done something wrong, — a sensa- 
tion which I can assure you is quite disagreeable. 
They might suspect they had done wrong, were it 
not that as soon as they begin to reason about it 
they perceive that all that happened was highly to 


their credit. The more they think about it, the 
more pleased they are with themselves. They per- 
ceive that their action was much more disinter- 
ested than, at the time, they intended. They are 
like a person who tumbles into the Dead Sea. He 
can't go under even if he tries. It is, of course, a 
matter of specific gravity. When a conscience is 
of less specific gravity than the moral element into 
which it is cast, it cannot remain submerged. The 
fortunate owner of such a conscience watches it 
with satisfaction when it serenely bobs to the sur- 
face ; he advertises its superlative excellence, — 
' Perfectly Pure ! It floats.' 

" The great use of the ad hominem argument is 
like that of certain leguminous plants which en- 
rich the soil by giving to it elements in which it 
had been previously lacking. After a crop of ^^ 
hominem arguments has grown and been turned 
under, we may expect a rich harvest of more com- 
mercially valuable fallacies in the next season. 
To thus enrich the soil is an evidence of the skill 
of the culturist. 

" Suppose, for example, you were to attempt to 
implant this proposition in the unprepared mind 
of an acquaintance, 'All geese are swans.' The 


proposition is not well received. All your friend's 
ornithological prejudices are against it. There is 
no foodstuff to support your theory. 

" But suppose you prepare the soil by a crop of 
the ad hominem argument. You say to your friend, 
after looking admiringly at his possessions, 'It 
seems to me that all your geese are swans.' He 
answers cordially, ' That 's just what I was think- 
ing myself' Now you have nicely prepared the 
ground for further operations. 

" While controversial theologians have always 
had a fondness for arguments in a circle, the ad 
hominem arguments have been largely cultivated 
by politicians. More than a generation ago Jer- 
emy Bentham published a work called ' Political 
Fallacies.* He described those that are indigenous 
to the British Isles. Almost all on his list were 
of the ad hominem variety. He described particu- 
larly those which could be grown to advantage in 
the Houses of Parliament. Since Bentham's day, 
much has been done in America in the way of 
propagating new varieties. Many of these, though 
widely advertised, have not yet been scientifically 
described. I have thought that if my present book 
is well received, I might publish another covering 


this ground. It will probably be entitled, ' Rea- 
soning for Profit; or Success with Small Falla- 

" The great essential in arguments of this kind 
is to have a thorough knowledge of the soil. Given 
the right soil, and the most feeble argument 
will flourish. Take, for example, the arguments 
for the divine right of kings to rule, once much 
esteemed by court preachers. Of course the first 
necessity was to catch your kings. The argu- 
ments in themselves were singularly feeble, but 
they flourished mightily in the hotbeds of royalty. 
The trouble was that they did not bear trans- 

" Half a century ago there were a dozen thrifty 
arguments for human slavery. They are, abstractly 
speaking, as good now as they ever were, but they 
have altogether passed out of cultivation. 

" In landscape gardening groups of the ad homi- 
nem arguments skillfully arranged are always 
charming. Much discrimination is needed for the 
adornment of any particular spot. Suppose you 
were called upon to furnish fallacies for an Amal- 
gamated Society of Esoteric Astrologers. You 
might safely, in such fertile soil and tropical cli- 


mate, plant the most luxuriant exotics. Such airy 
growths, however, would be obviously inappropri- 
ate for a commercial club composed of solid busi- 
ness men. You would for them choose rather a 
sturdy perennial, for example, the argument um ad 
Pennsyhaniam^ or tariff-bearing argument. 

" It grows thus : — 
The tariff is that which conduces to our prosperity. 
A tax does not conduce to our prosperity. 
Therefore, a tariff is not a tax. 

" Persons who have confined their logical exer- 
cises to the task of convincing impartial minds 
have no idea of the exhilaration which comes when 
one has only to convince a person of the wisdom 
of a course of action he has already taken. There 
is really no comparison between the two. There 
is all the difference that there is between climbing 
an icy hill and sliding down the same hill on a 
toboggan. There is no intellectual sport equal to 
that of tobogganing from a lofty moral premise 
to a congenial practical conclusion. We go so 
fast that we hardly know how we got to the bot- 
tom, but there we are, safe and sound. We have 
only to choose our company and hold on ; grav- 
itation does the rest. It is astonishing what con- 


elusions we can come to when we do our reason- 
ing in this pleasantly gregarious fashion. 

''' Ignoratio Elenchu or the fallacy of irrelevant 
conclusion. This is not a natural species, but the 
result of artifice. It is a familiar kind of argument. 
It begins well, and it ends well, but you have a 
feeling that something has happened to it in the 
middle. You have noticed in the orchard an apple 
tree that starts out to be a Pippin, but when the 
time comes for it to bear fruit it has apparently 
changed its mind, and has concluded to be a 
Rhode Island Greening. Of course you are aware 
that it has not really changed its mind, for the 
laws of Nature are quite invariable. The whim- 
sicality of its conduct is to be laid not upon Na- 
ture, but upon Art. The gardener has skillfully 
grafted one stock upon another. The same thing 
can be done with an argument. You have often 
observed the way in which a person will start out 
to prove one proposition and after a little while 
end up with the triumphant demonstration of 
something that is quite different. He shows such 
an ability at ratiocination that you cannot help 
admiring his reasoning powers, though it is hard 
to follow him. Your bewilderment comes from 


the fact that you had expected the original seed- 
ling to bring forth after its kind, and had not 
noticed the point where the scion of a new pro- 
position had been grafted on. 

" Many persons are not troubled at all when the 
conclusions are irrelevant. They rather like them 
that way. If an argument will not prove one 
thing, then let it prove another. It is all in the 
day's work. To persons with this tolerant taste 
the variety afforded by the use of the ignoratio 
elenchi is very pleasing." 

A chapter is given to the Cross-fertilization of 
Fallacies. The author shows how two half-truths 
brought together from two widely separated fields 
of thought will produce a new and magnificently 
variegated form of opinion. The hybrid will sur- 
pass specimens of either of the parent stocks both 
in size and showiness. Thus a half-truth of pop- 
ular religion cross-fertilized by a half-truth of pop- 
ular science will produce a hybrid which aston- 
ishes both the religious and the scientific world. If 
we were following the analogy of mathematics 
we might assume that two half-truths would 
make a whole truth. But when we are dealing 
with the marvelous reproductive powers of na- 


ture we find that they make much more than 

Scholasticus gives a page or two to the Dwarf- 
ing of Arguments. " The complaint is sometimes 
heard that an argument which is otherwise satis- 
factory proves too much. This may seem a good 
fault to those whose chief difficulty is in making 
their arguments prove anything at all. But I as- 
sure you that it is really very troublesome to find 
that you have proved more than you intended. 
You may have no facilities for dealing with the 
surplus conclusions, and you may find all your 
plans disarranged. For this reason many persons, 
instead of cultivating arguments of the standard 
sizes which take a good deal of room, prefer the 
dwarf varieties. These are very convenient where 
one does not wish one principle to crowd out an- 
other that may be opposed to it. Persons inclined 
to moderation prefer to cultivate a number of good 
ideas without crowding. The dwarf varieties are 
pleasing to the cultivated taste, as they are gen- 
erally exceedingly symmetrical, while full-grown 
ideas, especially in exposed places, are apt to im- 
press one as being scraggly. 

" Dean Swift, who had no taste for miniature 


excellencies, spoke scornfully of those who plant 
oaks in flower-pots. I have, however, frequently 
seen very pleasing oaks grown in this way, and 
they were not in very big flower-pots, either. 

" In moral reasoning, it is especially difficult to 
keep our conclusions moderate enough for our 
convenience. An ordinary argument always tends 
to prove too much. This is disconcerting to those 
who are endeavoring to live up to their favorite 
text, ' Be not overmuch righteous.' The danger 
of overmuchness is obviated by cultivating the 
fashionable dwarf varieties of righteousness. 

" Various methods of dwarfing are practiced 
with success. Training will do much ; you have 
seen trees dwarfed by tying them to a trellis or 
against a wall or to stakes, and preventing their 
growth beyond the prescribed limits. Incessant 
pruning is necessary, and each new growth must 
be vigorously headed back. By using the same 
means we may cultivate a number of fine ideas, 
and at the same time keep them fairly small." 

The least satisfactory chapter is that on Pests. 
" It is easy enough," says Scholasticus, " to describe 
a pest, but it is another matter to get rid of 
it. The most painstaking fallacy culturist must 


expect to awake some morning and behold his 
choicest arguments laid low by some new kind 
of critic. There seems to be no limit to the pes- 
tiferous activity of these creatures. They are of 
two kinds : those that bite, cutting off the roots 
of the argument, and those that suck out the 
juices. These latter destroy the vital tissue of 
inference on which everything depends. I never 
met any one who cultivated arguments on a large 
scale who did not have his tale of woe. 

" I had at one time a theological friend who 
had great reputation as a dogmatist. He had for 
many years a garden of fallacies which was one of 
the show places. It was in a sheltered situation, 
so that many fine old dogmas flourished which 
we do not often, in these days, see growing out 
of doors. Everything went well until the locality 
became infested with destructive criticism. He 
tried all the usual remedies without success. At 
last he became utterly discouraged, and cut out 
all the dead wood, and uprooted all the dogmas 
that were attacked by the pest. Since then he 
has given up his more ambitious plans, and he 
has only a simple little place where he cultivates 
those fruits of the spirit which are not affected by 


destructive criticism. It is only fair to say that 
he is making a very pleasant place of it. 

" For the encouragement of those who are not 
ready to take such heroic methods, it may be said 
that eternal vigilance, though not a panacea, will do 
much. Some of the most dreaded species of critics 
are not so dangerous as they seem. Many persons 
fear the Criticus Academicus, I have, however, seen 
fallacies which survived the attacks of this species 
and fell easy victims to the more troublesome 
Criticus Vulgaris^ or Common Gumption. 

" The worst pest is what is known as the Reduc- 
tio ad Absurdum, This is a kind of scale which 
grows upon a promising argument and eats out 
its life. It is so innocent in its appearance that 
at first one does not suspect its deadly character. 
In fact, it is sometimes taken as an agreeable 
ornament. After a little while the argument is 
covered over with a sort of dry humor. There 
is then no remedy." 

In the chapter on the use of artificial fertilizers, 
Scholasticus deals particularly with statistics. He 
refers incidentally to their use in the cultiva- 
tion of valid arguments. Their importance here 
is universally acknowledged. ^' It should be re- 


membered," he says, " that in this case success 
depends upon the extreme care with which they 
are used. An unusual amount of discrimination 
is demanded in their application. For this reason, 
if solid conclusions, that head well, are expected, 
only experts of good character can be trusted to 
do the work. 

" There is no such difficulty in the use of statis- 
tics, if the grower is content with arguments of the 
fallacious order. Statistics are recommended for a 
mulch. By covering a bed of fallacies with a heavy 
mulch of miscellaneous statistical matter it is pro- 
tected from the early frosts and the later drought. 
The ground of the argument is kept thus in a good 
condition. No particular care is here needed in 
the application of statistics; any man who can 
handle a pitchfork can do all that is required. I 
have seen astonishing results obtained in this way. 
No one need be deterred by the consideration of 
expense. In these days statistics are so cheap that 
they are within the reach of all. If you do not 
care to use the material freely distributed by the 
government, you can easily collect a sufficient 
amount for yourself 

" The best way is to prepare circulars containing 


half a dozen irrelevant questions, which you send 
to several thousand persons, — the more the bet- 
ter. If you enclose stamps, those who are good- 
natured and conscientious will send you such odd 
bits of opinion as they have no other use for, and 
are willing to contribute to the cause of science. 
When the contributions are received, assort them, 
putting those that strike you as more or less alike 
in long, straight rows. Another way, which is 
more fancy, is that of arranging them in curves. 
This is called ' tabulating the results.' When the 
results have been thoroughly tabulated, use in 
the manner I have described for the protection 
of your favorite arguments." 

In this way the book ran on for some three 
hundred pages. After I had read it, I congratu- 
lated Scholasticus on his effort. " You have al- 
most succeeded," I said, " in making Logic inter- 
esting ; that is, if it is Logic. Now that you have 
made such a good beginning, I wish you might 
go further. You have taught us, by a natural 
method, how to reason fallaciously. I wish you 
would now teach us how to reason correctly." 

" I wish I could," said Scholasticus. 


TO one who aspires to "sit and shake in Rabe- 
lais' easy-chair," the greeting "Peace on 
Earth " is a godsend. Was ever such a provoca- 
tive to satire ^ Did ever human nature appear in 
a disguise more ridiculously transparent than when 
assuming the part of Peacemaker in the midwin- 
ter pantomimes, and impudently laying claim to 
the very choicest beatitude ^ The bold masquer- 
ader has not even the grace to hide his big stick, 
but waves it as a wand. We are asked to believe 
that the vigorous flourishes of this same big stick 
prepare for the age of peace " by prophets long 

"Have you ever been to a Peace Conven- 
tion^" asks the amateur cynic. "It is good fun 
if you are fortunate enough to be able to watch 
the proceedings from the seat of the scornful. 
First come the advocates of Peace pure and sim- 


pie, enthusiasts for non-resistance. As you listen 
to the reports of the delegates you feel that the 
time has already come when ' the lion shall eat 
straw like the ox.' Your sympathies go out to 
the poor beast in his sudden change of diet, — 
for we of the Carnivora have no great appetite 
for straw. After a time the lions are led out to 
speak for themselves. Representatives of the dif- 
ferent nations give greetings. It appears from 
their remarks that the cause is one that has al- 
ways been nearest to their valiant hearts. No 
need to take measures to convert them, — they 
have always been on the right side. What were 
teeth and claws invented for, if not to enforce 
peace on earth ? 

"Each nation points with pride to its achieve- 
ments. Has not Great Britain made peace in 
South Africa, and the United States of America 
established it in the Philippines; and was not 
Russia a while ago endeavoring to establish it in 
Manchuria*? Even the little powers are at work 
for the same end. Is not disinterested Belgium 
making peace on the banks of the Congo, with 
rubber and ivory as a by-product? Has not 
Holland for these many years been industriously 


weeding out the malcontents in Java? The 
Christian message of good will has now reached 
the most remote recesses of the earth. Even the 
monks in Thibet have heard the good news. 
They must pay a good round sum for it, to be 
sure ; but what else could they expect when the 
message must be carried to them away up on 
the roof of the world, quite beyond the limits of 
the free delivery "? It 's their own fault that they 
never got into full connection with Christendom 
before. These unsocial creatures have for genera- 
tions been enjoying a selfish peacefulness of their 
own. They have been like a householder who 
has a telephone, but will not allow his number 
to go on the book. He likes to bother other peo- 
ple, but will not allow them to bother him. It 
has long been known that the Mahatmas in Llassa 
were in the habit of projecting thought vibrations 
to the ends of the earth, and muddling the brains 
of the initiated ; but the general public could not 
reciprocate. The British expedition has changed 
all that. Now when Christendom rings them up 
they 've got to answer." 

That word " Christendom " has a singular effect 
upon the cynic. It draws out all his acrid humor ; 


for it seems to him the quintessence of hypo- 

" Christian nations ! Christian civihzation ! A 
fine partnership this, between the brutal and the 
spiritual ! In the pre-Christian era war was a very 
simple thing. Read the record of an Israelitish 
expedition in the Book of Chronicles. ' And they 
went to the entrance of Gedor, even unto the 
east side of the valley, to seek pasture for their 
flocks. And they found fat pasture and good, 
and the land was wide and quiet and peaceable ; 
for they of Ham had dwelt there of old. And 
these written by name came in the days of Heze- 
kiah, king of Judah, and smote their tents and 
the habitations that were found there, and de- 
stroyed them utterly unto this day, and dwelt in 
their rooms ; because there was pasture there for 
their flocks.' 

" What an unsophisticated account of an ordi- 
nary transaction ! Even the sons of Ham could 
understand the motive. There was no profession 
of benevolent intent, not even an eloquent refer- 
ence to manifest destiny ; the fat pastures were 
a sufficient reason. In these days the unwilling 
beneficiaries of civilization have a harder time 


of it. No sooner are they dispossessed of their 
lands than they are called together to rejoice over 
the good work that has been done for them. 
This is A. D. and not b. c. The new era began 
with an angel chorus; let us all join in the re- 
frain. First of all, decorum requires that the bare 
facts be decently arrayed in spiritual garments. 
With the skill that is the result of long practice 
the ugliest fact is fitted. It is a triumph of dress- 
making. The materials may be a trifle thread- 
bare, but with a little fullness here and a breadth 
taken out there, each garment is made as good as 
new. Not a blood-stain shows." 

This is a free country, and the cynic must be 
allowed his fling. But if he has license to speak 
his mind in regard to the simple-hearted people 
who believe in Peace, we must be privileged to 
say what we think of him. The truth is that we 
think him to be a rather shallow-pated fellow 
who has been educated above his deserts. For 
all his knowing ways he has had but little know- 
ledge of the world. He has seen the things which 
are obvious, the things that are shown to every 
outsider. He prides himself on his familiarity 


with accomplished facts, not realizing that these 
belong to the world that is passing away. The 
interesting things to see are those which belong 
to the world that is in process of becoming. 
These are not visible from the seat of the scornful. 

The sweeping accusation of hypocrisy against 
men or nations whenever an incongruity is per- 
ceived between a professed purpose and an actual 
achievement is an indication of too great sim- 
plicity of mind. It is the simplicity that is char- 
acteristic of one without experience in the work 
of creation. 

The cynic, perceiving the shortcomings of 
those who "profess and call themselves Chris- 
tians," greets their professions with a bitter laugh. 
He cannot tolerate their pretensions, and he urges 
them to return to a frank profession of the pagan- 
ism which their deeds proclaim. Now it is emi- 
nently desirable that all who profess and call 
themselves Christians should be Christians, — but 
that takes time. The profession is the first step ; 
that puts a whip into the hand of conscience. 
Not only do a man's friends, but particularly his 
enemies, insist that he shall live up to his name. 
It is a wholesome discipline. In a new country 


two or three houses set down in a howling wilder- 
ness are denominated a city. It is a mere name 
at first, but if all goes well other metropolitan 
features are added in due time. I remember a 
most interesting visit which I once made to a uni- 
versity in a new commonwealth. The university 
consisted of a board of regents, an unfenced bit 
of prairie for a " campus," a president (who was 
also professor of the Arts and Sciences), a janitor, 
and two unfinished buildings. A number of the 
village children took courses which, if persisted 
in for a number of years, might lead to what is 
usually termed the Higher Education. One stu- 
dent from out of town dwelt in solitary state in 
the dormitory. The president met me with great 
cordiality, and after showing me "the plant" in- 
troduced me to the student. It was evident that 
they were on terms of great intimacy, and that 
discipline in the university was an easy matter, 
owing to the fact that the student body was 

Now it would be easy for one under such cir- 
cumstances to laugh at what seemed mere pre- 
tentiousness. " It was nothing more than a small 
school ; why not call it that and be done with 


it ? " The reason for not doing so was that it 
aimed at being a university. Its name was a 
declaration of purpose. " Despise not the day of 
small things." The small things may be very 
real things ; and then they have a trick of grow- 
ing big before you know it. 

In the world of creative activity the thought 
precedes the deed, the profession comes before 
the achievement. The child makes believe that 
he is a man, and his play is prophetic. Let us 
grant that multitudes who profess and call them- 
selves Christians are only playing at Christianity ; 
they have not yet begun to take the beatitudes 
seriously. It is a good thing to play at, and the 
play is all the time deepening into earnest work. 

When it becomes earnest, it is still far from 
perfect ; but imperfection of workmanship is no 
evidence of insincerity. He would be a poor 
critic who at the spring exhibition should accuse 
the artist of attempt to deceive because of his 
failure to achieve his professed purpose. 

" Do you call that a picture of the Madonna ? 
False-hearted hypocrite ! Are you wicked enough 
to attempt to poison our minds and prejudice us 
against one who has been an object of worship *? 


You are foisting upon us an image of absolute 

And yet the poor artist is no hypocrite, — he 
is only a poor artist, that is all. He has striven 
to express what he has actually felt, and he has 
had bad luck. He has been thrilled by an image 
of perfect womanhood, and he sought to repro- 
duce it for the joy of others. He wrought with 
sad sincerity, and this is what came of it ! 

In the work of creating a condition of peace 
and good will among men the Christian nations 
have not gone very far. But why twit on facts ? 
Let us be reasonable. Why should we take it as 
a grievance that our birth has not been delayed 
till the Millennium, but that we have been placed 
among those who are responsible for bringing it 
in? There is a satisfaction in being allowed a 
part in the preliminary work. And what if many 
well-meant endeavors have come to nought ? Let 
us not spend our time crying over the spilt milk 
of human kindness. It is natural that the first 
attempts at peacemaking should be awkward. 
It takes time to get the knack of it. It is foolish 
to reserve all our praise for perfection. That 
gives an unpleasant impression, such as that 


which we receive from a person who, when there 
is a call for small change, produces a bank bill 
of a large denomination, which he knows no one 
can break for him. 

" Peace on earth " is not a statement of accom- 
plished fact, but a prophecy. Now it is nothing 
against a prophecy that it has not yet been ful- 
filled. The farther off it is, the more credit to the 
eyes that see and to the stout hearts that patiently 
wait and work for it. The practical question is 
not " Has it come ? " but " Is it on the way ? " 
We are considering a bit of the unfinished busi- 
ness of the world. 

First we must listen to the report of the pro- 
gress already made. It is such a modest report 
that we must prepare our minds in order to ap- 
preciate it. The simple-minded cynic must be 
instructed in regard to the extreme difficuhy and 
complexity of the work that has been undertaken. 
It is nothing less than the transformation of a 
carnivorous, not to say cannibalistic, species into 
an orderly society in which each member shall 
joyously and effectively work for the welfare of 
all. The first thing, of course, is to catch your 
cannibals. This of itself is no easy task, and has 


taken many centuries. It has involved a vast 
amount of wood-chopping and road-making, and 
draining of swamps and exploring of caves and 
dens. It is a task that is still far from accom- 
plished. Savagery is a condition which cannot 
be abolished till there is a conquest of the earth 
itself When the cannibals have been caught 
and tamed there comes the problem of keeping 
them alive. They must eat something — a point 
which many of the missionaries of civilization 
have not sufficiently considered. Ethical progress 
is delayed by all sorts of economic complications. 
When the natural man is confronted with the 
necessity of getting a living, robbery is the first 
method which suggests itself to him. When this 
is prohibited he turns upon his moral adviser 
with, " What more feasible way do you pro- 
pose *? " The moral adviser has then to turn 
from the plain path of pure ethics, and cudgel 
his poor wits trying to " invent a little something 
ingenious " to keep his pupil from starving. The 
clever railer at human kind who has always had 
a bank account to fall back upon has no idea 
how much time and thought have been taken up 
in such contrivances. 


Then it should be remembered that the mis- 
sionaries of civilization have not themselves been 
above reproach. The "multitudes of the heavenly 
hosts" might be heard for a moment singing of 
good will among men, but they did not remain 
to do the work. The men of good will who 
were to work out the plan were very human 
indeed. Milton, in the Hymn " On the Morning 
of Christ's Nativity," warns us of the long interval 
between the Christmas prophecy and its historical 

For, if such holy song 
Enwrap our fancy long. 

Time will run back and fetch the age of gold; 
And speckled vanity 
Will sicken soon and die. 

And leprous sin will melt from earthly mould; 

Yea, Truth and Justice then 
Will down return to men. 

Orbed in a rainbow; and, like glories wearing, 
Mercy will sit between. 
Throned in celestial sheen. 

With radiant feet the tissued clouds down steering: 
And Heaven, as at some festival, 
Will open wide the gates of her high palace hall. 

But all the imagery of the gala day of peace 
fades away before the immediate reality. 


But wisest Fate says no. 
This must not yet be so. 

This veto of *' wisest Fate " is not absolute. It 
only calls a halt upon our imagination until the 
rest of our nature catches up with it. Mankind 
is not to have peace till it has suffered for it and 
worked for it. The workmen must do their work 
over and over again till they have learned the 
right way. 

That the " Christian nations " are not hypocrites, 
but novices who have been making some progress 
toward the Christian ideal, becomes evident when 
we look back over their history. They are not the 
descendants of the simple shepherds of the plains 
of Bethlehem. Far from it ! When they first be- 
gan to " profess and call themselves Christians," 
they were not thinking of the beatitudes. They 
had not got that far. 

Turn to the Heimskringla and read how King 
Olaf converted the pagan bonders. 

" So King Olaf went into the God-house and a 
certain few of his men with him, and a certain 
few of the bonders. But when the king came 
whereas the gods were, there sat Thor the most 
honored of all the gods, adorned with gold and 


silver. Then King Olaf hove up the gold- wrought 
rod that he had in his hand and smote Thor that 
he fell down from the stall ; and therewith ran forth 
all the king's men and tumbled down all the gods 
from their stalls. But whiles the king was in the 
God-house was Iron-Skeggi slain without, even at 
the very door, and that deed did the king's men. 
So when the king was come back to his folk he 
bade the bonders take one of two things, either all 
be christened, or else abide the brunt of battle with 
him. But after the death of Skeggi there was no 
leader among the folk of the bonders to raise up 
a banner against King Olaf So the choice was 
taken of them to go to the king and obey his bid- 
ding. Then King Olaf christened all folk that 
were there and took hostages of the bonders that 
they would hold to their christening. Thereafter 
King Olaf caused men of his wend over all parts 
of Thrandheim ; and now spoke no man against 
the faith of Christ. And so were all folk christened 
in the country-side." 

That is the way the nations of the north were 
first christianized. What is the difference between 
Thor and the Christ ^ the simple-hearted people 
would ask. " The difference," said King Olaf, " is 


very fundamental, and it requires little theological 
training to see it. It is this : the Christ is stronger. 
If you don't believe it, I '11 " — but they did be- 
lieve it. 

It is evident that there were some points in 
Christianity that King Olaf did not appreciate. 
To cultivate these fruits of the spirit required men 
of a different temper. Their work is not all done 
yet. It is progressing. 

There is one complication in the work of peace- 
making which has not been sufficiently considered. 
It is the recurrence of Youth. I have listened to 
the arguments against war at a great Peace Con- 
gress. The reasoning was strong, the statement 
of facts conclusive. War was shown to be cruel 
and foolish, and incredibly expensive. The au- 
dience, consisting of right-minded and very intel- 
ligent people, was convinced of the justice of the 
cause of Peace. Why, then, does not the cause 
triumph ? 

In such cases I am in the habit of looking about 
with the intent to fix the responsibility where 
it belongs, on those who were not at the meeting. 
Mature life was well represented, but there was a 


suspicious absence of young men in the twenties. 
Ah ! I said, there is the difficulty. We can't be 
sure of lasting peace until we make it more inter- 
esting to these young absentees. They '11 all be 
peace men by and by, but meanwhile there is no 
knowing what trouble they may get us into. 

John Fiske traced the influence which the pro- 
longation of infancy has had on the progress of 
civilization. I am inclined to think that equally 
great results would flow from any discovery by 
which the period of middle age could be pro- 
longed beyond its present term. War would be 
abolished without any more ado. A uniformly 
middle-aged community would be immune from 
any attack of militant fever. 

It happens, however, that every once in a while 
the hot passions of youth carry all before them. 
The account of what happened at the beginning 
of the civil wars in Israel is typical. King Reho- 
boam called a meeting of the elder statesmen of 
his kingdom. They outlined a policy that was 
eminently conciliatory. But we are told, " He for- 
sook the counsel of the old men which they had 
given him, and consulted with the young men that 
were grown up with him and which stood by him." 


That 's the difficulty ! The hardest thing about 
a good policy is to get it accepted by the people 
who have the power. What avails the wisdom of 
the old men when all the young men are " spoil- 
ing for a fight ? " Something more is needed than 
statesman-like plans for strengthening the frame- 
work of civilization. You may have a fireproof 
structure, but you are not safe so long as it is 
crammed with highly inflammable material. 

There is a periodicity in the passion for war. It 
marks the coming into power of a new generation. 
A quarter of a century from now "the good gray 
poet" Rudyard Kipling may be singing sweet 
lyrics of peace. All things come in time. The 
Kipling we know simply utters the sentiments of 
" the young men brought up with him." What 
he has been to his contemporaries Tennyson was 
to the generation before. Kipling never wrote a 
more scornful arraignment of peace or a more 
passionate glorification of war than Tennyson's 
" Maud." 

We are listening to the invective of a youth 
whose aspirations have been crushed and ideals 
shattered by a civilization that seems to him to be 
soulless. He has seen something which to him is 


infinitely more cruel than the battle between con- 
tending hosts 

Why do they prate of the blessings of peace ? we have made them 
a curse. 

Pickpockets, each hand lusting for all that is not its own ; 

And lust of gain, in the spirit of Cain, is it better or worse 

Than the heart of the citizen hissing in war on his own hearth- 
stone ? 

We are made to see the inglorious peace in 
which men seek only their own ease. 

Peace sitting under her olive, and slurring the days gone by, 
When the poor are hovell'd and hustled together, each sex, like 

When only the ledger lives, and when only not all men lie. 

From the evils of a soulless commercialism, 
and from the inanities of fashion, what is the way 
of escape*? From the evils of peace he turns 
to the heroism of war. 

I wish I could hear again 
The chivalrous battle song. 

• •••••• 

Ah God, for a man with heart, head, hand. 
Like some of the simple great ones gone 
For ever and ever by. 
One still strong man in a blatant land. 

At last, breaking in upon the deadly stupidity 


and selfishness of the common life, is the noise of 
battle : — 

it lightened my despair 
When I thought that a war would arise in defence of the right. 
That an iron tyranny now should bend or cease. 
The glory of manhood stand on his ancient height. 
Nor Britain's one sole God be the millionaire. 

Let it go or stay, so I wake to the higher aims 

Of a land that has lost for a little her lust of gold. 

And love of a peace that was full of wrongs and shames. 

Horrible, hateful, monstrous, not to be told ; 

And hail once more to the banner of battle unroll' d ! 

That was an appeal to Young England, the 
England that was too young to remember the 
Napoleonic wars and was thirsting for an experi- 
ence of its own. 

We may see in such an outburst of the 
militant spirit only the recrudescence of savagery. 
It is better to treat it seriously, for it is some- 
thing which each generation must reckon with. 
Tennyson sums up the matter from the stand- 
point of ardent youth : — 

Let it flame or fade, and the war roll down like a wind. 
We have proved we have hearts in a cause, we are noble still. 
And myself have awaked, as it seems, to the better mind. 
It is better to fight for the good than to rail at the ill ; 
I have felt with my native land, I am one with my kind, 
I embrace the purpose of God, and the doom assigned. 


It is easy enough to dismiss all this as mere va- 
poring. But it is a protest which must be heeded, 
for it expresses a real experience. There are things 
worse than war. A sordid slothfulness is worse. A 
cowardly acquiescence in injustice is worse. It 
is a real revelation when to the heart of youth 
comes a sudden sense of the meaning of life. It is 
not a treasure to be preserved with miserly care- 
fulness. It is to be nobly hazarded. It is better 
to fight for the good than to rail, however elo- 
quently, against the ill. To feel for one's native 
land, to unite in generous comradeship with one's 
kind, to endure hardness for a noble cause, — 
these things are of the essence of manhood. 

In times of national peril such awakening has 
come. Many a man has then for the first time 
discovered that he has a soul. He has cried out, 
" Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of 
the Lord." 

Now just here we peace men may see our most 
inspiring bit of unfinished business. War has been 
idealized; it is left to us to idealize peace. It can- 
not be done till we bring out all its heroic possi- 
bilities. If it means dull stagnation, selfish ease, 
the prosperity that can be measured in dollars and 


cents, there is sure to come a revulsion against it. 
The gospel of the full dinner-pail and the pletho- 
ric pocket-book does not satisfy. If the choice is 
between commercialism and militarism we need 
not wonder if many an idealist chooses the latter 
as the less perilous course. It seems less threaten- 
ing toward the things for which he cares. 

The call is for a new chivalry. Our duty is not 
only to keep the peace, but to make a peace that 
is worth keeping. This is no easy task. It means 
the humanizing of all our activities. Everywhere 
a human ideal must be placed above every other 
kind of success. Religion must be lifted above 
ecclesiasticism ; and business honor above the vul- 
gar standards of commercialism. The machinery 
of civilization must be made subservient to man. 
More careers must be opened for men of the sol- 
dierly spirit whose ambition is for service. The 
new generation must be shown what opportunities 
the world's business and politics offer to great- 
hearted gentlemen who are willing to risk some- 
thing for a cause. The kind of peace which the 
world needs cannot be had for the asking. It comes 
high, — but it is worth the price. 


Are you not constrayned (my fellow Academicks) to sub- 
scribe to this my opinion that the knowledge of no nation is so 
necessary as the searching out of a man*s own Country and the 
manners thereof and the right understanding of that Common- 
weale whereof each one of us is a part and member. The Lamiae 
that are a certaine kind of monsters are laughed at in the Poeti- 
call Fables in that they were so blinde at home that they could 
not see their own affaires, could foresee nothing ; but when they 
were once gone from home they were accounted the most sharpe- 
sighted and curious searchers of all others. . . . [Are not they] 
very ridiculous when as by taking long voyages unto farre remote 
people, after they have curiously sought out all matters amongst 
them are ignorant of the principall things at home and know not 
what is contayned within the precincts of their country, and are 
reckoned altogether strangers on their native soile? — Coryat's 

THE remark that Boston is not so much a 
place as a state of mind is one of the highest 
compKments ever paid to that city. Places are 
common enough, the maps are dotted with them, 
but a state of mind is a mark of distinction. The 
Bostonian enjoys his state of mind none the less 


because he is aware that outsiders are not always 
able to enter into it. 

Only those places which have become symbolic 
of mental or moral traits are remembered. Sodom 
and Gomorrah were once towns of some commer- 
cial importance. We think of them, however, not 
as trade centres, but as sins. Babylon, according to 
a doctrine of spiritual correspondences long since 
established, is another name for proud and cruel 
worldliness. It is likely so to remain, in spite of 
the discovery of clay tablets which show that 
many of its people were estimable citizens who 
practiced domestic economy and collected their 
debts by due process of law. All we have to say 
is that those who acted in this commonplace way 
were not typical, — in fact, they were quite un- 
Babylonian. In like manner, Zion represents no 
longer a hill whose altitude may be prosaically 
estimated according to the metric system. It is a 
highly exalted frame of pious joy. 

It is strange that, with all the ingenuity that has 
been shown in inventing new text-books for the 
use of schools, no one has compiled a Psychological 
Geography. The materials are ample. It only 
needs some one with a scientific imagination, or, 


rather, with a capacity for writing imaginative 
science, to make it a success. Eliminating those 
communities whose states of mind are so mixed 
as to be unclassifiable, the way would be clear 
for a very pretty series of generalizations. There 
would be maps with isothermal lines uniting places 
of equal degrees of warmth of temperament or 
frigidity of manner. Weather charts would show 
the direction of the various winds of doctrine and 
the storm centres, religious and political. The the- 
ory of moral cyclones and anti-cyclones would be 
adequately explained. There would be maps in 
colors indicating the communities situated on the 
plateaus of conscious ethical and intellectual supe- 
riority. These often rise into the arid, or at least 
semi-arid, belt. In sharp contrast with these are 
the luxuriant bottom lands, where less favored 
peoples dwell in happy ignorance of their low 
estate. The "principal products" would be graphi- 
cally illustrated. One section, being without nat- 
ural resources, is given over to the manufacture 
of novelties, while another is rich in fossils. The 
distribution of fads may be shown to advantage. 
Some localities are almost barren, while others are 
naturally faddy. 


When he comes to the Points of the Compass 
the most matter-of-fact psychological geographer 
will forget the cold mannerisms of his science and 
become poetical. North, South, East, West, these 
are vast symbols of psychic forces. He would not 
think of putting at the head of the chapter the pic- 
ture, from the old Geography, of the disconsolate 
urchin with his face to the north and his arms 
extended in rigid but reluctant testimony to the 
fact that " East is East and West is West." What 
does this featureless boy know of those tremendous 
forces whose age-long contests have made the his- 
tory of the world ? What does he know of the 
hardiness and the prowess that make the true 
North ? If he were forcibly turned around, his 
face would be as expressionless as ever. Such a 
mannikin never felt a sudden longing for "a 
beaker full of the warm South." 

Art must be called to the aid of science. Each 
point of the compass has an expression of its own. 
One should be able by looking at the face of the 
man in the picture to know the direction. There 
is no mistaking the qualities which grow only 
where there is a northerly exposure. The Orient 
and the Occident are not to be confounded. 


Were some affluent citizen to endow a chair of 
psycho-geographical science in one of our leading 
universities, especial attention should be paid to 
the teaching of Systematic Americanism. It is a 
branch now much neglected. The professor should 
take pains to instruct his " fellow Academicks" in 
the manners and customs of their own country, so 
that they should no longer be reckoned strangers 
on their native soil. They should be taught to 
avoid entangling analogies drawn from the expe- 
rience of other lands, and to look directly at the 
subject-matter. When they see something going 
wrong, they should not jump at the conclusion 
that it is a repetition of the classic tragedy of the 
Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, — for it 
may be something quite different. When there 
is a popular movement on the prairies, they should 
not begin to talk of the French Revolution and of 
the excesses of the proletariat. Before they talk in 
European fashion of the "classes and the masses," 
they should make certain that we have such 
things, and if we have, that there is a sure way of 
telling which is which. The Old-World generali- 
zations about the upper and lower and middle 
classes should be well shaken before using. 


Those who elect the course in Americanism 
should be taught to overcome the nervous fright 
to which bookish people are subject at the appear- 
ance of any man in public life who shows signs 
of unusual virility. It is a weakness of those who 
are more familiar with the careers of Caesar and 
Napoleon than with the temper of their fellow- 
citizens. In the early seventies there were aca- 
demic minds thoroughly convinced that they were 
watching the Republic in its death struggle with 
Csesarism. Curiously enough, they fixed upon 
plain Ulysses Grant to act the part of Caesar. It 
would have been hard to find one less fitted for 
the role. When we look back and contrast what 
really happened with what the well-read specta- 
tors thought was happening, we are reminded of 
the remark of the British matron to her husband 
as they left the theatre where they had been see- 
ing the play of " Antony and Cleopatra," " How 
unlike the home life of our dear Oueen ! " 

The great thing, as President Roosevelt has 
often reminded us, is to " think nationally." This 
is no small achievement. A nation is a psycho- 
geographical fact which it requires a very great 
effort of the imagination to conceive. The same 


word represents a land and the people who in- 
habit it. The physical features of the landscape 
have their spiritual counterparts. It may be that 
the landscape impresses itself on the imagination 
of the race, or, as may be maintained with equal 
plausibility, the imagination of a gifted race may 
interpret the landscape and impress itself upon it 
forever. In either case there is a recognizable har- 
mony between the two elements. In reading the 
great literature of Israel we never forget that the 
nation was desert-born. " He found him in a 
desert place, he led him about, he instructed him." 
In psalm and prophecy we are conscious of bar- 
ren mountain ranges, of rocks in a weary land, of 
narrow valleys which laugh for very joy over the 
incongruity between themselves and the surround- 
ing desolations. There is the passion of the desert, 
born of solitude and the stars. In the prophet of 
righteousness there is the same urgent note that 
Bayard Taylor catches in his "Bedouin Song:" — 

From the Desert I come to thee 

On a stallion shod with fire ; 
And the winds are left behind 

In the speed of my desire. 

The impatient human cry is followed by the re- 


frain natural to those whose lives are surrounded 

by the eternal calm of the desert, — 

Till the sun grows cold. 

And the stars are old. 

And the leaves of the Judgment Book unfold. 

When we think of the Greeks we think at the 
same time of 

the sprinkled isles 
Lily on lily that o'erlace the sea. 
And laugh their pride when the light wave lisps ** Greece.'* 

England and her Englishmen are forever insep- 
arable. " This happy breed of men " belong to 
" this little world, this precious stone set in a silver 
sea, this blessed plot, this England." That Great 
Britain is an island is more than a fact of physical 
geography. It is the outward and visible sign of 
an insularity of sentiment which gives its pecu- 
liar quality to British patriotism. There is some- 
thing snug and homelike about it, as of a family 
that enjoys " the tumultuous privacy of storm." 

We become conscious of Spain and her Span- 
iards as we read Longfellow's lines : — 

A something sombre and severe 

O'er the enchanted landscape reigned. 

As if King Philip listened near 

And Torquemada, the austere. 
His ghostly sway maintained. 


When we come to the United States of Amer- 
ica there is a peculiar difficulty in thinking and 
feeling nationally, because the imagination does 
not at once find the physical facts to serve as sym- 
bols. It is not easy to conceive the land as a whole. 
When we sing " My Country, 't is of thee," the 
country that is visualized is very small. The au- 
thor of the hymn was a New England clergyman, 
and naturally enough described New England and 
called it America. It is a land of rocks and rills 
and woods, and the hills are templed, in Puritan 
fashion, by white meeting-houses; for the early 
New Englander, like erring Israel of old, loved to 
worship on " the high places." Over it all is one 
great tradition : it is the " land of the Pilgrims' 

The farmer in North Dakota loves his country, 
too ; but the idea that it is a land of rocks and 
rills and templed hills seems to him rather far- 
fetched. His heart does not thrill with rapture 
when he thinks of these things. He can plow all 
day in the Red River valley without striking a 
stone, and he is glad to have it so. 

The Texan cultivates an exuberant American- 
ism, but he does not think of his country as the 


" land of the Pilgrims* pride." Texas is not proud 
of the Pilgrims, and perhaps the Pilgrims would 
not have appreciated Texas. 

When the American has come to feel, not pro- 
vincially, but nationally, the words " my country " 
bring to his mind not merely some familiar scenes 
of his childhood, but a series of vast pictures. 
They are broad and simple in outline. " My 
country" is no tight little island shut out from 
" the envy of less happier lands." It is continental 
in its sweep. It lies open and free to all. It is 
large and easy of access. There is a vision of 
busy cities serving as its gateways. Behind them 
is a pleasant home-like land with " a sweet inter- 
change of hill and valley." Beyond the moun- 
tains another scene opens. We see the sources of 
the strength of America and feel the promise of 
its future. To see the Mississippi valley is to be- 
lieve in " manifest destiny," and to take a cheerful 
view of it. To the ancient world the valley of the 
Nile was the symbol of fertility. It is a narrow 
ribbon of green in the midst of the desert. Here 
Plenty and Famine were in plain sight of one 
another. There was always the suggestion of 
Pharaoh's ugly dream of the lean kine devouring 


the fat and well-favored. But in the valley of the 
Mississippi the fear of the lean kine is dispelled. 
One may travel at railroad speed day after day, 
and still the fields of wheat and corn smile upon 
him. Here the ample land gives happy confidence 
to men's prayer for daily bread. And beyond the 
fertile prairies " my country " stretches in high 
plains and lofty mountain ranges. Here are new 
treasures waiting bold spirits who claim them. 
The land has a challenge and an invitation. 

What a weary dearth 
Of the homes of men ! What a wild delight 
Of space, of room! What a sense of seas 
Where seas are not ! What salt-like breeze ! 
What dust and taste of quick alkali ! 

And beyond the mountains lies the American 
Avilion, where never — 

wind blows loudly; but it lies 
Deep-meadow' d, happy, fair with orchard lawns 
And bowery hollows: crown* d with summer seas. 

And this great land is one; though it is "a nation 
of nations" it has achieved a national conscious- 
ness. There is an atmosphere about it all which 
we recognize. To breathe it is an exhilaration. 


One loves to think of it as the land of " the large 
and charitable air." 

The conception of the continental proportions 
of America did not at once dawn upon its new 
inhabitants. They thought and spoke as trans- 
planted Englishmen. Each of the thirteen States 
was a tight little republic insisting on its own 
rights. Each plucky Diogenes sat in its own tub, 
saying to its neighbors, "Get out of my sun- 
shine I " 

It was only as they turned westward that 
Americans discovered America, — a discovery 
which in some instances has been long delayed. 
" The West " is not merely a geographical ex- 
pression, it is a state of mind which is most dis- 
tinctive of the national consciousness. It is a 
feeling, an irresistible impulse. It is the sense of 
undeveloped resources and limitless opportuni- 
ties. It is associated with the verb " to go." To 
the American the West is the natural place to go 
to, as the East is the place to come from. It is 
synonymous with freedom from restraint. It is 
always " out West." 

Just where the geographical West begins it is 


not necessary to indicate. On the coast of Maine 
you may be shown a summer cottage and told 
that it belongs to a rich Westerner from Massa- 
chusetts. Massachusetts is not thought of as 
exactly the Far West, but it is far enough. 

The psychological West begins at the point 
where the centre of interest suddenly shifts from 
the day before yesterday to the day after to-morrow. 
Great expectations are treated with the respect 
that elsewhere had been reserved for accomplished 
facts. There is a stir in the air as if Humanity 
were a new family just setting up housekeeping. 
What a fine house it is, and how much room there 
is on the ground floor ! What a great show it will 
make when all the furniture is in I There is no 
time now for the finishing touches, but all will 
come in due order. There is need for unskilled 
labor and plenty of it. Let every able-bodied man 
lend a hand. 

One does not know his America until he has 
been touched by the Western fever. He must be 
possessed by a desire to take up a claim and build 
himself a shack and invest in a corner lot in a 
Future Great City. He must be capable of a 
disinterested joy in watching the improvements 


which other people are making. Let the man of 
the East cHng to the old ways and seek out the 
old landmarks. The symbol of the West is the 
plank sidewalk leading out from a brand-new 
prairie town and pointing to a thriving suburb 
which as yet exists only in the mind of its projec- 
tor. There is something prophetic in that side- 
walk on which the foot of man has never trod. 

One who has once had this fever never com- 
pletely recovers. Though he may change his en- 
vironment he is always subject to intermittent 

I remember on my first evening in Oxford 
sitting blissfully on the top of a leisurely tram car 
that trundled along High Street. The dons in 
academic garb were on their way to dinner in the 
college halls, and they looked just as my imagina- 
tion had pictured them. I was introduced to one 
of them. When he learned that I was an Ameri- 
can, there was a sudden thaw in his manner. 

" Have you ever been in Dodge City, Kansas? " 
he inquired eagerly. 

I modestly replied that I had only passed 
through on the railway, but I was familiar with 
other Kansas towns, and, reasoning from analogy. 


I could tell what manner of place it was. This was 
enough. I had experienced the West. I was one 
of the initiated. I could enter into that state of 
mind represented by the term Dodge City. It ap- 
peared that in the golden age, when he and Dodge 
City were both young, he had sought his fortune 
for some months in Kansas. He had experienced 
the joys of civic newness, a newness such as had 
not been in England since the Heptarchy. He 
discoursed of the mighty men of those days when 
every man did what was right in his own eyes, 
and good-humoredly allowed his neighbor to do 
likewise. As we parted, he said, with mournful 
acquiescence in his present estate, " Oxford does 
very well, you know, but it is n't Dodge City." 
If poetry is emotion remembered in tranquillity, 
what could be more poetical than Dodge City re- 
membered in the tranquiUity of Oxford quad- 
rangles ? 

In this case the poetical view was a sound one. 
The traveler across the newly developed States of 
the West has the traveler's license to contrast un- 
favorably that which he sees with that which he 
left behind him in his home country. He may say 
a dozen uncomplimentary things, and each one 


of them may be true. He may exhaust all his 
stock adjectives, as " crude " and " raw " and the 
like. But when he remarks, as did a certain critic, 
that because the country lacks " distinction " it is 
uninteresting, he betrays his own limitations. 

It is just that lack of distinction that makes 
America interesting. Here, no longer distracted 
by what is exceptional, one may take the welfare 
of the masses of men seriously. 

Here the doings of men correspond to the broad doings of the 

day and the night. 
Here is what moves in magnificent masses, careless of particulars. 

When Shelley was an undergraduate he was 
attracted to a lecture on mineralogy. It seemed to 
him a subject full of poetical suggestiveness. His 
expectations were disappointed, and he unceremo- 
niously bolted and returned to his room. " What 
do you think the man talked about? Stones! — 
stones ! — stones ! I tell you stones are not inter- 
esting — in themselves." 

Shelley was right. Stones are not interesting in 
themselves ; neither are railroads, nor stockyards, 
nor new unpainted buildings, nor endless corn- 
fields. But for that matter, neither are crumbling 
columns, nor old manuscripts, nor the remains of 


feudal castles interesting — in themselves. Things 
become interesting only when seen in relation to 
the people whose thoughts they have stimulated 
and whose imaginations they have stirred. 

America is a fresh field for human endeavor. 
Here are men busily making roads, bridging riv- 
ers, building new cities. They have been given 
the task of subduing a continent. But in silch con- 
flicts with Nature the conquered influences the 
conquerors. What impress does the continent 
make upon the minds of the hardy men who are 
mastering it "? What visions of the future do they 
see which transform their drudgery into an heroic 
adventure *? 

In the case of the older nations such questions 
about the beginnings and the ideals of the begin- 
ners cannot be answered. The formative period, 
with all its significant aspirations, is buried in obli- 
vion. " Who thinks any more as they thought?" 
we ask in regard to the pioneer of Britain. Poetry 
has license to picture him as a knight in armor 
and to tell how in romantic fashion he pitched 

His tents beside the forest. And he drave 
The heathen, and he slew the beast, and felled 
The forest, and let in the sun. 


It was all a long time ago, and the men who did 
these things are not clearly revealed. Not being 
able to get at their ideals, we attribute to them 
those which we think appropriate. 

The historians are troubled by their lack of 
authentic material. They are like the magicians, 
astrologers, sorcerers, and Chaldeans of the court 
of Nebuchadnezzar. Nebuchadnezzar had a 
dream that he knew was very important, but 
before he could get it interpreted by his wise men 
he forgot what it was. They were good at inter- 
pretations, and could have made one to fit if only 
the king had brought the dream with him so that 
they could try it on. But that was the very thing 
he could not do. 

The founders of London and Paris had doubt- 
less their dreams of the future ; but alas ! they have 
long since been forgotten. But Chicago has not 
had time to forget. Everything is still vivid. Men 
walk the streets of the great city who remember 
it when it was no bigger than the Londinium of 
the time of the Caesars. They have with their own 
eyes watched every step in the civic development 
and they have been a part of all that they have 
seen. The Londoner has seen only a passing 


phase of his London; the greater part of its history 
is received on hearsay evidence. The Chicagoan 
sees his Chicago steadily and sees it whole. No 
wonder that there is a self-consciousness about the 
new metropolis that is not to be found in the old. 
Its greatness has been thrust upon it suddenly, 
and there is a full realization of its value. 

The genuine American who is the maker of the 
new fortunes of the world, and who is in love with 
his work, has not been adequately portrayed in 
literature. It requires an ample imagination to do 
justice to his character. There must be a min- 
gling of realism and romance. The realism must 
not be the minute, painstaking portraiture of a 
Miss Austen, but the hearty, out-of-door reality of 
a Fielding. The American Fielding has not yet 
appeared, but what a good time he will have when 
he comes ! What a host of characters after his own 
heart he will find ! The American Scott, too, is 
called for to give us a story of American life 
which will read as well on the edge of a clearing 
in the forest as " The Lady of the Lake " did in 
the trenches of Torres Vedras, when the soldiers 
forgot the enemy's shells as they gave a glorious 
shout over the poet's lines, which their captain was 


reading to them. I like that story, in spite of the 
fact that a recent critic declares that to like it 
shows an uncultivated taste. " This is not," he says, 
" a test of poetry. An audience less likely to be 
critical, a situation less likely to induce criticism, 
can hardly be imagined." Nevertheless, Scott 
would much rather have written lines that rang 
true to soldiers in the hour of battle, than to have 
been given a high mark by the most competent 
corrector of daily themes. 

The imagination of Hawthorne, brooding over 
the past, repeopled the House of the Seven 
Gables with the successive generations. But there 
is another kind of romance, in which the imagina- 
tion is projected into the future. Looking at the 
new house not yet enclosed against the storm, it 
dreams dreams and sees visions. There is a story 
there, also, and the best of it is that it is to be 

A shrewd old New England farmer recounted 
to me the warlike exploits of his family. He him- 
self had been in Gettysburg, and each generation 
since the time of the French and Indian wars had 
had its soldier. His son had been shot at Santiago. 


" The bullet went clean through his body," he 
said, indicating a course which seemed to me neces- 
sarily fatal. I expressed sympathy. " Oh, it did n't 
hurt him much," he said, " it seemed to go through 
a vacant spot." 

That there are vacant spots in the character 
of the typical man of the Western world no one 
would be more ready to admit than he. His short- 
comings are obvious. Yet most of those which 
have been harshly commented upon by the world 
are of the kind that might be commended to the 
consideration of the kindly Pardoner. Some of his 
weaknesses touch upon nobleness. Those who 
best know his environment and the work he has 
done are most ready to grant him a reasonable 
degree of indulgence. 

The most serious charges against him are that 
he is a boastful materialist enamored of crude bulk, 
and that he has trampled upon the old sanctities 
and is a worshiper of the almighty dollar. There 
is some color for these charges in his manners, but 
those who make them have certainly not under- 
stood his spirit. '' The Western Goth," Lowell 
called him. The Goths had a bad reputation once 
as wanton destroyers of ancient art. But after they 


had had their fling and had settled down, the 
Teutonic barbarians showed that they could 
make a thing or two themselves. Gothic has 
long since ceased to be a term of reproach. Even 
in the destruction of the ancient, archaeologists 
now admit that the Goths did not do as much 
harm as was at first feared. The real destroyers 
of ancient Rome have been the Romans. 

From the fact that western America is a place 
where people are actively engaged in making 
money, and that they find their work so interest- 
ing that they like to talk about it, the superficial 
observer jumps at the conclusion that this is the 
seat of the cult of wealth-worship. But there is a 
vast difference between making a thing and wor- 
shiping it. It is reported that one of the varied 
industries of Great Britain is the manufacture of 
molten images. It is undoubtedly a sin, but the 
British manufacturer comforts himself with the 
reflection that he only breaks half the command- 
ment; he makes the idol, but he does not bow 
down before it. 

Worship is not talkative or boastful. It is re- 
served and self-abasing. The worshiper accepts 
the superiority of the object of his devotion as 


a fact not to be questioned. For such serious- 
minded worship of wealth go to the Enghsh moral 
tales so popular a generation or two ago, before 
the wave of democracy came in. Then the afflu- 
ent Squire and his lady were lifted into the place 
of superior beings. They dispensed bounty after 
the manner of Providence to their poorer neigh- 
bors, and there was no thought of questioning their 
ways. They were rich, as had been their fathers 
and mothers before them, and all other virtues 
were attributed to them by fond superstition. 

The men of the Western mining camps, where 
millionaires are made in a day, have no concep- 
tion of such a reverential attitude toward the pos- 
sessor of wealth. When you see them in the eager 
pursuit of dollars, you are watching not their re- 
ligion, but their sport. They care for money as 
the fox-hunter cares for the fox. They admire the 
man who wins the prize, in proportion to the skill 
and pluck which he has exhibited. But there are 
no illusions of a personal superiority imparted by 
the possession of property. That is impossible in 
a community where everybody is acquainted with 
the short and simple annals of the rich. 

The man who is conspicuously successful in 


the national sport is undoubtedly an object of in- 
terest, but it is interest of the superficial sort. He 
is not the man whom the people delight to honor, 
and he usually has the good sense to know it. In 
a Western newspaper my attention was attracted 
by the headlines : " Noah a Millionaire." It seems 
that some one had calculated that, even after 
making allowance for the low price of labor and 
materials in his day, the Ark must have cost over 
half a million dollars, and that Noah must have 
had at least a million in order prudently to un- 
dertake the work. It put the patriarch in a fresh 
light, and I read the article diligently, as did most 
of my fellow passengers on the train. But that was 
the end of it; our opinions about diluvian and 
antediluvian matters remained unchanged. I sup- 
pose that the publicity given to the doings of our 
conspicuously rich contemporaries has no greater 

The millionaire who cares for the admiration of 
his fellow-citizens must do more than accumulate. 
When he has made his fortune the next question 
is, " What will he do with it ? " He must do some- 
thing or sink into the rank of nobodies. Even the 
most selfish and parsimonious feels that something 


is required of him. A great part of the stream of 
new wealth may be wasted, so far as the higher 
interests of society are concerned, but a certain 
part of it is pretty certain to be directed toward 
those same higher interests. The process is hke 
that which goes on with an hydrauUc ram. Where 
there is a good stream of water, one can afford to 
lose most of it. The waste water, before it escapes 
down the hill, pumps a slender but sufficient stream 
into the second story. 

Indeed, it is the interest of our millionaires in 
art, science, and religion which has created a puz- 
zling ethical problem. They are not content to 
be mere money-getters. They aspire to be bene- 
factors on a large scale. But what if the wealth 
so freely offered has not been honestly come by *? 
What if the best institutions should hesitate to re- 
ceive it *? The poor rich man cannot contemplate 
such a refusal with equanimity. It would inter- 
fere with the fulfillment of his most cherished 
plans. To have unlimited opportunities to make 
money, and to be hindered in giving it away, 
seems to him like building a trunk line of rail- 
road and then being denied terminal facilities. Of 
course he could change his plans and keep it all 


himself, but to a man who had been accustomed 
to " doing things " that would be a humiliating 

The fact that the American is greatly absorbed 
in his work with material things is no sufficient 
basis of the charge of materialism that is lightly 
brought against him. The crucial question is, 
" What do the things stand for in his mind ^ Are 
they finalities, or are they means to an end ? " The 
most appalling picture of a purely materialistic 
civilization is that given in the book of the Reve- 
lation. It is an inventory of the wealth of the 
Babylon which was Imperial Rome. The inven- 
tory is an indictment. " The merchandise of gold, 
and silver, and precious stones, and of pearls, and 
fine linen, and purple, and silk, and scarlet, and 
all thyine wood, and all manner vessels of ivory, 
and all manner vessels of most precious wood, and 
of brass, and iron, and marble, and cinnamon, and 
odours, and ointments, and frankincense, and wine, 
and oil, and fine flour, and wheat, and beasts, and 
sheep, and horses, and chariots, and slaves, and 
souls of men." 

The heart grows sick when the list of commod- 


ities ends with the " souls of men." What were 

they worth, measured against all that goes before *? 

A very different impression comes as we read 

Joaquin Miller's exultant cry over the West : — 

O heart of the world's heart. West! my West! 
Look up ! Look out ! There are fields of kine. 
There are clover fields that are red as wine. 

There are emerald seas of corn and cane. 

There are isles of oak and a harvest plain 
Where brown men bend to the bending grain. 
There are temples of God and towns new born. 

And the hearts of oak and the hands of horn 
Have fashioned them all, and a world beside. 

This frank delight in the riches of the earth is 
not materialistic. The souls of men are not in 
the market. They form the supreme standard of 
value. Materialism is not a disease to which na- 
tions are subject in their lusty youth. It comes 
with senile decay. 

Sometimes when we are wearied with the in- 
tense activity of modern life we quote the saying, 
" Things are in the saddle." Perhaps our sympa- 
thy is misplaced. If the poor Things could speak, 
they would tell us that, so far from being in the 
saddle, they are under the lash of furious young 


idealists who give them no rest. It is the nature of 
a Thing to " stay put," but these headstrong youths 
despise this conservative bias. They are no respect- 
ers of Things, being wholly absorbed in Purposes. 
To see Things in undisputed possession, go into 
" the best room " of a respectable old farmhouse. 
Here the Thing has the place of honor, and the 
Person is a base intruder, having no rights of his 
own. The priestess hovers occasionally around 
her sacred Things, waving her feather duster as a 
mystic wand, and then leaves them in respectful 
gloom. Nothing short of a death in the family 
would induce her to disturb them. Go into a busy 
workshop, and you may see how the Thing may 
be taught to know its place. It is always at the 
mercy of the innovating Intelligence. When a 
new Idea comes, the old Thing which had hereto- 
fore had a useful function is thrown aside. It is 
still as good as it ever was, but it is not good 
enough. It must go to the scrap pile. 

The man of the West is likely to offend against 
the standards of propriety in speech. When he 
begins to explain the character of his country, he 
is accused of inaccuracy. His prospectus is not 


always confirmed by the Table of Contents. He 
has acquired the habit of " talking large." This 
prejudices many people against him. They accuse 
him of willful exaggeration, and if he be the pro- 
moter of some commercial enterprise, they impute 
to him a mercenary motive. 

But he is in reality quite sincere. If he talks 
large, it is only because he feels large. His is a 
language natural to those who are engaged in 
creative work, and who foresee great things. It is 
like " the large utterance of the early gods." He 
does not feel called upon to limit his statements 
to the facts that are already apparent; he expects 
the facts to grow up to his statements. He is not 
shooting at a fixed target, but at a flying mark ; if 
he is to hit it, he must aim a little ahead. 

Another reason for this large utterance is that 
in a new country the ordinary man identifies him- 
self with his community in a way impossible to 
any but very great magnates in an old civiHzation. 
He feels very much as did the kings and earls 
he has read about. How proudly on the Shake- 
spearean stage a great noble will speak of him- 
self as Norfolk or Northumberland I It is as if his 
personality had been multiplied by so many square 


miles. He is no longer a mere individual, — he 
is a whole county. 

An American may have much the same sense 
of territorial aggrandizement by identifying him- 
self with a promising community in its first stage 
of growth. He is not a unit lost in a multitude. 
His town has a fine name and a glorious future. 
Some day these glories may be divided among 
thousands, now they are his own. He is proud of 
the town, and the pride is more satisfying because 
he is it. 

I once camped for a whole month in the city 
of Naples on the shores of the Pacific. I knew it 
was a city, for a huge sign announced the fact to 
every one who passed by the beautiful, secluded 
spot. Unlike some of the boom towns of that 
period, Naples had an inhabitant, whom I had 
occasion frequently to meet. When I addressed 
him, it was hard for me to use his surname, as I 
would with a common man. For to me he was 
Naples. It would have seemed appropriate for 
him to speak in blank verse. 

There are those who look upon the Western 
delight in the idea of bigness as an evidence of 


vulgarity of sentiment and of the lack of idealism. 
They have a scorn of those who habitually think 
of quantity rather than of quality. But the man 
of fastidious taste should not be allowed to have 
it all his own way. One poet may be inspired by 
" the murmur of a hidden brook in the leafy month 
of June." But another may prefer to stand on the 
shore of the ocean and feel its immensity. He is 
tremendously impressed by its size. It is a big 
thing. But the ocean is as poetical as the brook, 
though in its own huge way. 

There are some things wherein quality is the 
first consideration. They are the luxuries of life. 
But when we come to the prime necessities, the 
first question is in regard to the adequacy of the 
supply. When a sentimental young lady was 
seated at dinner next to a great poet, she waited, 
awestruck, for him to give utterance to a fine 
thought. The only gem he vouchsafed was, " How 
do you like your mutton ? I like mine in hunks." 
The poet was a man of sound sense. There is one 
law for poetry and another for mutton. Poetry is 
precious, and a little goes a long way ; we can get 
on without any but the best. But mutton should 
be served more generously. 


It is the glory of the West that it treats what 
elsewhere are the luxuries of the few as the ne- 
cessities of the many. It dispenses even "the 
higher education" not in dainty morsels, but in 

Old Mrs. Means, in " The Hoosier School- 
master," formulated the wisdom of the pioneer. 
" You see, this 'ere bottom land was all Congress 
land in them there days and sold for a dollar and 
a quarter, and I says to my old man, ' Jack,' says 
I, * do you git a plenty while you 're gittin'. Git a 
plenty while you 're gittin',' says I, ' for 't wont be 
no cheaper than 't is now;' and it haint, and I 
knowed 't would n't." 

Translate Mrs. Means's shrewd maxim into the 
terms of idealism, and you have the characteris- 
tic contribution of the West. The old prudential 
maxims, which were true enough in a finished 
civilization, may well be disregarded by those who 
face a great new opportunity. They can well af- 
ford to preempt more territory than they can at 
present cultivate. When one's aims are selfish, the 
desire to get a plenty is mere greed, but in the 
altruist it rises into "the enthusiasm for human- 
ity." It is the ambition to supply the wants of 


men no longer in niggardly fashion, but in full 

In two directions the expectation of moral 
amplitude in things American is fulfilled, — in 
Education and in Charity. Here we feel that the 
people have been aroused to the need of making 
plentiful provision, not only for immediate neces- 
sities, but for future growth. Along these lines 
we think and plan nationally. 

But there are some questions which give pause 
to the most boastful patriot. Where is the dis- 
tinctive American Art which interprets in a broad, 
fresh way the genius of the land, and where is 
the public that would recognize it and delight 
in it if it should appear? Where is the great 
American Church able splendidly to organize the 
forces of spiritual freedom as Rome organized 
the principles of ecclesiastical authority ? How is 
the vision of her prophets fulfilled? 

And thou, America, 

For the scheme's culmination, its thought and its reality. 

For these (not for thyself) thou hast arrived. 

Thou, too, surroundest all. 

Embracing, carrying, welcoming all, thou too by pathways 

broad and new. 
To the ideal tendest. 


The measured faiths of other lands, the grandeurs of the past 

Are not for thee, but grandeurs of thine own, 

Deilic faiths and amplitudes, absorbing, comprehending all. 

Where are these "deific faiths and amplitudes" 
that are worthy of the land embodied *? 

America presents new problems for statesman- 
ship ; where are the large-hearted, clear-eyed men 
who give themselves to the task ? Here and there 
we see them. In the crisis of the nation's life na- 
ture came to the rescue. 

For him her Old-World moulds aside she threw. 
And, choosing sweet clay from the breast 
Of the unexhausted West, 
With stuff untainted shaped a hero new. 
Wise, steadfast in the strength of God, and true. 

That is the kind of manhood America needs. Is 
the supply equal to the demand ? The growth of 
wealth in the Republic has been marvelous. Has 
there been evolved a wisdom equal to the task of 
justly distributing what enterprise has created^ 
We hear of American " Captains of Industry." 
How far have they realized Carlyle's idea when 
he gave the title to those whose success lies not 
in personal gain but in ability to be real leaders 
of men ? How far has America produced great 


captains, able to bring into commerce and manu- 
facture the soldierly virtues of courage, loyalty, 
and willing obedience ^ 

When he considers these things the just critic 
must say to the Republic, " Thou art weighed in 
the balances and found wanting." But let him 
not hastily assume that he is reading the mystic 
handwriting on the wall, the Mene, meney tekely 
upharsiuy that foretells the fall of nations. Let 
him rather talk as to a young athlete who has not 
come up to the mark, " You have done much, but 
you have not yet done your best ! You are yet 
wanting in some essential elements. You must 
try again." 

The American idealist recognizes the present 
failures, but it does not quench his high spirits. 
They come to him as challenges. He takes his 
falls as Adam and Eve took theirs. After the first 
shock was over there was a healthy reaction. 

Some natural tears they dropped, but wiped them soon; 
The world was all before them where to choose 
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide. 

The most hopeful sign of the times is the num- 
ber of young Americans who have become con- 
scious of the grave evils that beset their country. 


but who neither whine nor scold nor prophesy 
ill. The pioneer spirit is strong within them. 
They attack the abuses of democracy with a 
cheery iconoclasm. They are impelled to their 
work not merely by a sense of duty ; they find 
their fun in it. It is with a sense of exhilaration 
that we watch these pioneers. Their world is all 
before them. We are anxious to see what they 
will make of it. 


HUMOR is not usually looked upon as a 
civic virtue. It is for the most part confined 
to a modest sphere of usefulness, and is accepted as 
an alleviation to the lot of the private man. He 
learns to find pleasure in his small misadventures 
and to smile amiably at his discomfitures. The 
most ancient pleasantries have almost always an 
element of domesticity. They form the silver 
lining to the clouds that sometimes gather over 
the most peaceful homes. What comfort an 
ancient Hebrew must have taken in the text 
from Ecclesiasticus : "As climbing up a sandy 
way is to the feet of the aged, so is a wife full of 
words to a quiet man." The quiet man would 
murmur to himself, " How true I " He would 
seize the simile as a dog snatches a bone, and 
would carry it off to enjoy it by himself 

But it would never occur to him to treat the 
large affairs of the community in this fashion. 
Here everything seems too dignified to allow of 


pleasant conceits. The quiet man could not treat 
the prolixity of his social superiors as he could 
the too long drawn out wisdom of his wife. He 
must take it, as he would take the invariable laws of 
nature, with unsmiling acquiescence. Lord Bacon 
in his list of works that ought to be undertaken 
declared the need of one to be entitled " Sober 
Satire ; or the Insides of Things." Such sober 
satire might express the moods of a philosophical 
statesman, who could contrast the inside of great 
affairs with the outside. It implies a certain famil- 
iarity with the institutions of society which the 
common man does not possess. 

Now and then, however, there is a reversal of 
the usual relation. The community is of such a 
nature that each member can see through it and all 
around it. The ordinary citizen becomes a philo- 
sopher indulging habitually in sober satire. He 
knows that things are not as they seem, and is 
pleased at the discovery. In such a case humor 
envelops everything and becomes the last word 
of sociological wisdom. 

So it was in a community which I fondly re- 
member. It was not much to look at, this brand- 
new Nevada mining town. The main street 


swaggered up the gulch in a devil-may-care fash- 
ion, as if saying to the teamsters, " You may take 
me or leave me." To the north it pointed to an 
alkali flat, and to the south to a dusty old moun- 
tain, which was immensely richer than it seemed. 
On the mountain side were hoisting works and 
hundreds of prospect holes which menaced the 
lives of the unwary. In the gulch were smelters 
which belched forth divers kinds of fumes. To 
the stranger they seemed to threaten wholesale 
asphyxiation, but to the citizen they gave the 
place the character of a health resort. An analy- 
sis of the air showed that it contained more chem- 
icals than were to be found in the most famous 
mineral springs. Certain it was that there were 
enough to kill off all germs of contagious diseases. 
The community felt the need of no further hy- 
gienic precautions, and put its trust in its daily 
fumigations. No green thing was in sight, not so 
much as a grass blade, for the fumes were not only 
germicides, but also herbicides. On the main street 
were saloons and gambling houses, in close prox- 
imity to two or three struggling churches. There 
were two daily newspapers, each of which kept 
us informed of the other's manifold iniquities. A 


narrow-gauge railroad had its terminus at the foot 
of the gulch. Once a day a mixed train would 
depart for the world that lay beyond the alkali 
flat. Some of the passengers would be "going 
below," which meant nothing worse than a trip 
to California ; others were promoters going East 
on missions of mercy to benighted capitalists. 
The promoter was our nearest approach to a pro- 
fessional philanthropist. As for the rest, the chief 
impression was of dust. It would roll in great 
billows down the gulch; it seemed as if the 
mountains had been pulverized. Then the wind 
would change and the dust billows would roll 
back. No matter how long it blew, there was 
always more where it came from. 

I cannot explain to an unsympathetic reader 
why it was that we found life in our dusty little 
metropolis so charming, and why it was that we 
felt such pity for those who had never experienced 
the delights of our environment. Nor can I 
justify to such a reader the impulse which led 
a woman whose husband had died far away in 
New England to bring his body back to be laid 
to rest in the bare little cemetery amid the sage 


"It 's not such a homelike country as the other," 
I ventured. 

" No," she answered, " it is n't, but he liked it." 

And so did we all; and the liking was not the 
less real because it was an acquired taste. There 
was nothing in it akin to serious public spirit. 
It was a whimsical liking, like that of Touch- 
stone for Audrey, — "An ill-favoured thing, sir, 
but mine own ; a poor humour of mine, sir, to 
take that that no man else will." 

When several thousand people, set down in 
the midst of a howling wilderness, tacitly agree 
to consider it as the garden of the Lord, they can 
do much. It pleases the ephemeral community 
to make believe that it is permanent. The camp 
organizes itself into a city, with all the offices and 
dignities appertaining thereto. Civilization is 
extemporized like a game of dumb crambo. It 
amuses the citizens to see their beloved city going 
about in institutions several sizes too large for it. 
Nothing is taken literally. Humor is accepted 
not as a private possession, but as a public trust, 
and cultivated in a spirit of generous coopera- 

In the town were men whose education and 


experience had been in the great world. There 
were mine superintendents who a little while 
ago might have been in Germany or Cornwall ; 
there were assayers and engineers fresh from the 
great technical schools, and "experts" full of 
geological lore. The mines were as rich in liti- 
gation as in silver, and there were lawyers great 
and small. 

But all were dominated by one typical charac- 
ter who was accepted as the oracle of the land, — 
" The Honest Miner." To him saloons were dedi- 
cated with alluring titles, such as " The Honest 
Miner's Delight " and " The Honest Miner's 
Rest." At the end of the gulch was " The Honest 
Miner's Last Chance," — one which he seldom 
missed. The newspapers and political orators 
appealed to his untutored judgments as the last 
word of political wisdom. He occupied the posi- 
tion which elsewhere is held by the " Sturdy Yeo- 
man " or the " Solid Business Man." 

The Honest Miner of the Far West is one of 
those typical Americans who are builders of com- 
monwealths. His impress is upon the western 
half of our continent. He is a nomad, the last of 
a long line of adventurers to whom the delight 


of the new world is in its newness. Sometimes 
his work is permanent, but he never is quite 
sure. His habitual mood is one of sober satire. 

I know nothing more pleasant than to sit with 
an old-timer who has spent years in prospecting 
for silver and gold, and listen to his reminiscences. 
Here is a philosopher indeed, one with an historic 
perspective. He has the experience of the Wan- 
dering Jew, without his world-weariness. He has 
seen the rise and fall of cities and the successive 
dynasties of mining kings. His life has been a 
mingling of society and solitude. With his pack 
upon his back he has wandered into desert places 
where no man had been since the making of 
the world, — at least, no man with an eye to the 
main chance. A few weeks later the lonely cafion 
has become populated with eager fortune-seekers. 
The camp becomes a city which to the eyes of 
the Honest Miner is one of the wonders of the 
world. A year later he revisits the scene, and 
it is as Tadmor in the Wilderness. He pauses to 
refresh his mind with ancient history, and then 
passes on to join in a new "excitement." He 
measures time by these excitements as the Greeks 
measured it by Olympiads. 


He loves to tell of the ups and downs of his 
own fortune. There is no bitterness in his mem- 
ory of his failures. They relieve the record from 
the monotony that belongs to assured success. His 
successes are not less gratifying because, like all 
things earthly, they have had a speedy ending. A 
dozen times he has " struck it rich." He has thrown 
away his pick and shovel and gone below to bask 
in the smiles of fortune. He has indulged in 
vague dreams of going to Europe, of looking up 
his family tree, and of cultivating grammar and 
other fine arts. Fortune continued to smile, but 
after a while her smile became sardonic, and with 
a wink she said, " Time *s up ! " Then the Hon- 
est Miner would take up his pick and shovel and 
return to his work, neither a sadder nor a wiser 
man, — in fact, exactly the same kind of man 
he was before. That Experience is a teacher is a 
pedantic theory which he rejects with scorn. Ex- 
perience is not a schoolmaster, Experience is a 
chum who likes to play practical jokes upon 
him. Just now he has given him a tumble and 
got the laugh on him. But just wait awhile I 
And he chuckles to himself as he thinks how he 
will outwit Experience. 


All the traditions of the mining country con- 
firm him in his point of view: Listen to what 
Experience says, and then do just the opposite. 
It is the unexpected that happens. The richest 
diggings bear the most lugubrious names. The 
Montanian delights to tell of the riches taken out 
of Last Chance Gulch. The Arizonian for years 
boasted of the gayety of Tombstone and the 
amazing prosperity of the Total Wreck Mine. 

Certain physiologists are now telling us that 
the poetic praise of wine is based upon a mistake. 
Alcohol, they say, is not a stimulant, but a de- 
pressant. It does not stimulate the imagination 
so much as it depresses the critical faculty so 
that dullness may easily pass for wit. An idea will 
occur to a sober man as being rather bright, but 
before he has time to express it he sees that it is not 
so. Under the inhibition of good sense he holds 
his tongue and saves his reputation. But in a con- 
vivial company the inhibition is removed. Every- 
body says whatever is uppermost in his mind. 
The mice play, not because they are more lively 
than before, but only because the cat is away. 

On first hearing this theory, it seemed to me 


that it was the most powerful temperance argu- 
ment which could be formulated. But I am not 
sure but that it leaves the matter very much 
where it found it. After all, the man who is op- 
pressed by the dullness of his ordinary condition 
would enjoy feeling briUiant, even if he were not 
really so. 

In trying to recall any specific instances of wit 
and humor in my Nevada town, I am compelled 
to fall back on the theory of the removal of in- 
hibition. Life was not more amusing there than 
elsewhere, — it only seemed so. There were no 
" best people " whose critical judgments inhibited 
the self-expression of less favored classes. Every 
one feeling at liberty to be himself and to express 
his own opinion, unfailing variety was assured. 
Society, being composed of all sorts and condi- 
tions of men, was in a state of perpetual efferves- 
cence. A very ordinary man, who elsewhere might 
have passed unnoticed in a life of drudgery, be- 
came a notable character. 

There, for example, was Old Multitude, so 
called from the many oxen attached to the huge 
wagons he convoyed to the distant mines. He 
was a bull-whacker of the old school. His sur- 


name had long been lost in the abyss of time. 
Old Multitude was not looked upon as a mere 
individual. The public had adopted him, and he 
had become an institution. 

When he was about to depart, a crowd would 
gather on the main street, as the inhabitants of a 
little seaport town gather to watch the departure 
of a ship. Old Multitude bore his honors meekly, 
but he was conscious that he was the chief actor 
in an important social function. There was no- 
thing ill-advised in his actions, and his words were 
fitly chosen as he walked down the line, address- 
ing to each beast of his multitudinous team the 
appropriate malediction. His wide vocabulary on 
such occasions contrasted strangely with his usual 
taciturnity. The words taken by themselves were 
blood-curdling enough, but as they rose and fell 
in mighty undulations it seemed as if he were in- 
toning a liturgy. 

And there was Old Tansy, a bit of wreckage 
from the times of '49. There was a tradition that 
Tansy had seen better days ; at least, it was hard 
to imagine how he could have seen worse. He 
lived without visible means of support, and yet he 
was not submerged. It pleased the community 


to accept Tansy as a character worth knowing in 
spite of his fallen fortunes. His obvious failings 
were always clothed in soft euphemisms. No one 
could say that he had ever seen him drunk, and 
on the other hand no one would be so rash as to 
assert that he had ever seen him sober. In the 
border land between moderate drinking and ine- 
briety, Tansy dwelt in peace. 

What most endeared Tansy to his fellows was 
his mild religiosity, which manifested itself in 
persistent church-going. He was no fair-weather 
Christian. There was no occasion when he would 
not desert his favorite saloon to take his accus- 
tomed place in the back pew of the Presbyterian 
church. Only once did Tansy express an opinion 
in regard to the services which he so assiduously 
attended. A minister passing through the town 
preached a lurid sermon on the future punish- 
ment of the wicked. He spared no materialistic 
imagery to make his remarks effective. At the 
close of the service Tansy, instead of going out, as 
was his custom, went forward and, grasping the 
minister's hands, said in a tone of quiet satisfac- 
tion, " Parson, it done me good." 

Just what the nature of the good was he did 


not indicate. I suppose that there was something 
in the unction of the preacher that recalled mem- 
ories of the past. 

There was one person whom I always recall 
with peculiar pleasure. To see him coming over 
the divide in a cloud of dust was to see one of 
the typical forms of creation. He was known, on 
account of the huge pair of goggles which he 
wore, as " Four-Eyed Nick." He dwelt in a cabin 
in the most desolate part of the mountain, and he 
fitted his environment perfectly. He seemed as 
natural a product of the soil as the sage brush, for 
like it he had learned to exist where there was 
very little water. 

Great was the joy in the community when one 
day Four-Eyed Nick announced that he had struck 
pay ore and that he was about to celebrate his 
good fortune by getting married. Every one was 
intensely interested. The newspapers made an es- 
pecial feature of the approaching marriage in high 
life. Nick was dazed by the sudden glare of pub- 
licity. Who should be invited? His generous 
heart rebelled against any discrimination, and he 
solved his problem by saying, "Come one! Come 
all ! " He engaged every vehicle in the town to 


be at the disposal of such of his fellow citizens 
as would honor him with their presence at his 

It would have delighted the heart of Chaucer 
to have seen the procession of wedding guests 
wending their way over the ten miles of abomi- 
nable mountain road to Nick's cabin. Not on the 
road to Canterbury was there more variety or 
more hearty good fellowship. Nick had invited 
the town, and the town was bent on showing its 
appreciation of the compliment. The mayor and 
members of the city council, the lawyers, editors, 
doctors, clergymen, gamblers, mining experts, 
saloon-keepers, and honest miners all joined 
heartily in doing honor to one whom they, for 
the moment, agreed to consider their most dis- 
tinguished fellow citizen. 

No one could remain long in assured ob- 
scurity. It pleased the community to turn its 
search-light now upon one member and now 
upon another, and give him a brief experience 
of living in the public eye. Greatness of one 
sort or another was sure to be thrust upon one 
in the course of the year. The choicest spirits 
of the town were always collaborating in some 


work of high-grade fiction, and were on the 
lookout for interesting material. It would have 
been churlish for any one when his turn came 
to have refused to be a notability. 

An English writer laments the fact that the 
schools send out thousands of persons whose 
imaginations have been stifled by the too prosaic 
discipline which they have undergone. " Why," 
he says, " is it that ninety-nine persons out of a 
hundred lose this faculty in the earliest period of 
their childhood *? It is simply because their bring- 
ing up has consisted in the persistent inoculation 
with the material facts of life, and the correspond- 
ingly persistent elimination of all imaginative 

He blames parents who give their children 
mechanical toys, especially if they are well made. 
Even a doll should not have too much verisim- 
ilitude. " It would be better to place a bundle 
of rags in the arms of a little girl, and tell her to 
imagine it to be a baby. She would, if left to 
herself with no other resource than her own fancy 
learn to exercise all her dormant powers of im- 
agination and originality." 

That kind of education the Honest Miner has 


carried into mature life. He is full of imagina- 
tive ideas. The barest shanty is glorified in his 
eyes if it bears the sign " Palace Hotel " or " Del- 
monico's." If he cannot have the thing, he takes 
satisfaction in the name. Above all else, he craves 

The inhabitants of Gold Hill used to relate 
with pleasure the exploits of Sandy Bowers. 
When he struck an incredibly rich pocket in the 
mountain, Sandy built for himself a huge and 
expensive mansion in Washoe Valley. He im- 
ported all kinds of trees from foreign lands, none 
of which would grow. He filled his house with 
pianos, and when some one suggested sheet mu- 
sic he telegraphed to New York: "Send me 
some sheet music, one of every kind." 

It was the desire for one of every kind which 
induced our community, when it put off the 
habits of a " camp " and became a " city," to lift 
into temporary prominence an elderly farmer 
from Pennsylvania who had drifted into Nevada 
without changing any of his ways. He came 
from York County, where he would have gone on 
his way unnoticed, for there were so many like 
him. But in the silver country he was diiFerent 


from the common run of fortune-seekers, there- 
fore he was made much of Some local Diogenes 
turned his lantern upon him and discovered that 
he was an honest man, honest in a plodding, 
Pennsylvania Dutch fashion. " Honest John " 
became a man of note. Then some one suggested 
that we had " in our midst a grand old man." 
That was enough to make the political fortune 
of the honest man. He was elected to a position 
of power in the new city government, for every 
one was anxious to see what our "grand old 
man " would do. 

He proved a thorn in the flesh of the politi- 
cians. He introduced a reign of rigid economy 
which made the local statesmen despair of the 
Republic. It was decided that the city had had 
too much of a good thing. The Grand Old 
Man should be deposed, — he should not be 
mayor, nor member of the council, nor any such 

But the municipal charter had been conceived 
in that generous fashion which is proper to a state 
where there are offices in excess of the needs of the 
population. The Grand Old Man discovered that 
there was one office which had been overlooked 


by the astute politicians : that of the Superinten- 
dent of Streets and Sidewalks. The streets had 
not been clearly differentiated from the surround- 
ing desert, and, as for sidewalks, the citizens had 
been accustomed to cut across the country wher- 
ever it pleased them. The highways having been 
left to the kindly influence of Nature, it never 
occurred to any one that they should be officially 
superintended. The Grand Old Man cast a ballot 
for himself as Superintendent of Streets and Side- 
walks, and when the returns were in, it was found 
that his name led all the rest. He was declared 
elected by a majority of one. 

Then he began to magnify his office. He 
brought forth a plan of the city which had here- 
tofore been a dead letter. He discovered streets 
where the wildest imagination had not supposed 
streets to be possible. Prominent citizens were 
arrested for obstructing mythical sidewalks. He 
was encouraged to stretch his prerogatives to the 
utmost, for every one was curious to see how far 
they would go. For six months he ruled by right 
of eminent domain. Leading lawyers gave it as 
their opinion that all rights not expressly reserved 
by the Federal and State governments were vested 


in the Grand Old Man. The Methodist minister, 
who was incHned to sensationalism, preached a 
sermon from the text in Nehemiah vi. 6 : " It is 
reported among the heathen, and Gashmu saith it." 
"Who this Gashmu was," said the preacher, in be- 
ginning his discourse, " we do not know, but from 
the importance attributed to his remarks we may 
fairly assume that he was the Superintendent of 
Streets and Sidewalks in Jerusalem." 

Lowell describes the rough humor of the fron-- 
tier, with the free and easy manners which charac- 

this brown-fisted rough, this shirt-sleeved Cid, 
This back- woods Charlemagne of empires new. 
Whose blundering heel instinctively finds out 
The goutier foot of speechless dignities. 
Who, meeting Caesar's self, would slap his back. 
Call him * Old Horse * and challenge to a drink. 

He had in mind the backwoodsmen whom 
sturdy apostles like Peter Cartwright labored 
with to such good purpose. But the Honest 
Miner, though a pioneer, is not a backwoodsman. 
His humor is of a different quality. He would 
not think of slapping Caesar on the back and 
calling him "Old Horse." It would seem more 


amusing to him to address some one who might 
properly be called " Old Horse " with titles of 

" Truthful James " delights in euphemism. He 
does not object to calling a spade a spade, but he 
refuses to do so in such a way as to give offense. 

Which it is not my style 

To produce needless pain 
By statements that rile 

Or that go 'gin the grain. 

He is no " brown-fisted rough " who delights in 
swagger. There is roughness enough all about 
him, and it pleases him to cultivate the ameni- 
ties. His gentlemanliness is often carried to ex- 

The most characteristic humor of the Honest 
Miner consists, not in grotesque exaggeration, but 
in deUcate understatement. What can be more 
considerate than the notice posted by the side 
of an open shaft : " Gentlemen will please not 
fall down this shaft, for there are men at work 

A Nevada minister once described to me the 
action of a brother minister in the early days. The 
minister went to a certain town where he offended 


the lawless element, and was threatened with 
physical violence if he persisted in his intention 
of preaching. My friend described the method 
by which the liberty of prophesying was asserted. 
" He went into the pulpit, laid his revolver on 
the Bible — and then he preached extempore^ 

The manner of narration savored of the soil. 
The Honest Miner under such circumstances 
would subordinate everything to emphasis on the 
correct homiletical method. No matter how able 
the minister might be, it was evident that if he 
were closely confined to his notes, his delivery 
could not be effective. 

A good woman described the way in which her 
minister, a young man fresh from the theological 
school, made one of his first parish calls. He 
found his parishioner, who had been extolled as 
one of the pillars of the church, in a state of in- 
toxication, and he was chased out of the house 
and some distance down the street. 

" We were sorry it happened, for it gave him 
an unpleasant impression of the congregation. 
You know Mr. met with several rebuffs." 

The unconventional episode was related with 
all the prim propriety of " Cranford." 


The perfect democracy of a mining camp de- 
velops a certain naive truth-telling, which has 
all the unexpectedness which belongs to the 
observations of a boy. There is no attempt to 
reduce everything to uniformity, or to prove any 
particular thesis. The gossip of a conventional 
village where people know each other too well 
is apt to be malicious. A creditable action is 
narrated, and then comes the inevitable "but." 
The subject of conversation falls in the estima- 
tion of the hearers with a sudden thud. 

The Honest Miner does not attempt to pass 
final judgment or to arrange his fellow men ac- 
cording to any sort of classification. He speaks 
of them as he sees them, and so virtues and fail- 
ings jostle one another and take no offense. The 
result is a moral inconsequence which has all 
the effect of studied wit. This is what delights us 
in the characterization of Thompson of Angel's; 

Frequently drunk was Thompson, but always polite to the 

As we read the line we smile, not so much at 
Thompson as at the society of which he was a 
part. We see behind him the sympathetic com- 
pany at AngePs. Here was a public with whose 


temper he was familiar. He could trust himself 
to the judgment of his peers. No misdemeanor 
would blind them to such virtues as he actually- 
possessed. He could appeal to them with per- 
fect confidence. 

When you shall these unlucky deeds relate. 
Speak of me as I am; nothing extenuate. 
Nor set down aught in malice. 

The Western mining camp is not primarily 
an educational institution, yet it has served a 
most important function in the making of Amer- 
icans. The young man is fortunate who on leav- 
ing college can take a post-graduate course in 
a community where he can study sociology at 
first hand. He will learn many things, especially 
that human nature is not so simple as it seems, 
but that it has many " dips, spurs, and angles." 


ALL the world loves a lover," but all the 
world does not love a saint. Our hearts 
do not leap up when we behold a halo on the title- 
page, and so the lives of the heroes of the Church 
are frequently neglected. When the saint has 
been duly canonized, that is generally the end of 
him in popular esteem. But sometimes the eccle- 
siastical and secular judgments coincide and the 
saint is invested with human interest. 

So it has been with St. Francis of Assisi, — 
given the highest honors in his church, he has 
captivated the imagination of the world. Protest- 
ants vie with Catholics in doing him honor. At 
no time has his name been more familiar or his 
legend more often repeated than in our own 
day. He has been recanonized. 

This renewal of interest in the Franciscan le- 
gend is all the more interesting because it carries 
us into a region so remote from that in which we 
habitually dwell. 


" Now it came to pass that as Francis, the ser- 
vant of the Lord, was singing the praises of the 
Lord with joy and gladness, certain robbers fell 
upon him and fiercely questioned him who he was. 
And he answered, ' I am the herald of the King 
of Heaven.' And the robbers fell upon him with 
blows and cast him into a ditch, saying, ' Lie there, 
thou herald of nothing ! ' When they had de- 
parted Francis arose and went through the for- 
est, singing with a loud voice the praises of the 

These words take us into another world than 
ours. To enter that world we must not only lay 
aside our easily besetting sins, but our easily be- 
setting virtues as well. We must cast aside all 
the prudential virtues, we must rid our minds of 
all prejudice in favor of scientific charity and ra- 
tionalistic schemes of philanthropy, and we must 
disclaim personal responsibility for the progress 
of modern civilization. With such impedimenta 
the pilgrim of thought might possibly get as far 
back as the sixteenth century, but it would be 
impossible for him to penetrate into the thirteenth. 
He who would do so must first drink deep of 
Lethe. He must put out of mind those persons 


and events which have been the distinctive in- 
fluences of the modern world. He must forget 
Luther, and wash his soul clean of every trace 
of Calvin ; every echo of the raillery of Voltaire 
must have died away, and his mind must have 
been kept unspotted from the world of Newton 
and of Darwin. 

Above all, if he would enter into the social 
dreams of the thirteenth century, he must forget 
that he ever heard of such a science as political 
economy. He must renounce the old Adam and 
all his works, — I mean Adam Smith. 

But on the other side of Lethe there are pure 
fountains, and dark forests where robbers lurk, 
and where saints are singing the high praises of 
God, and beyond are the " regions dim of rap- 
ture " where they are lost from the eyes of their 

And it may not be in vain to turn aside from 
the consideration of the engrossing questions of 
our day, to enter into that dim world and look 
out upon it through the eyes of its truest saints. 
They were eyes blind to many things we see 
clearly, but they saw some things which we do 
not always see ; at any rate they were eyes — 


Beyond my knowing of them beautiful. 
Beyond all knowing of them wonderful. 
Beautiful in the light of holiness. 

So Francis of Assisi has an especial interest for 
every student of Christianity and for every stu- 
dent of ethics. For the student of Christianity he 
stands as a man who, while neither a theologian 
nor a reformer, and having no place among the 
intellectual leaders of mankind, has an undis- 
puted spiritual leadership. His place is that of 
the little child whom Jesus placed in the midst 
and of whom he said, " Of such is the kingdom 
of Heaven." 

For the student of ethics St. Francis is of inter- 
est because, while he had an invincible ignorance 
of scientific ethics, yet the real emphasis of his 
life and teaching was on the finest kind of ethical 
idealism. We are reminded of Shakespeare's 
lines : — 

Love is too young to know what conscience is. 
Yet who knows not that conscience is born of love. 

There are some characters, and St. Francis is 
among them, who belong so completely to their 
own age that we cannot take them out of their 
environment. The beauty of their lives is like 


that of some shy wild flower which will not bear 
transplanting. If we would enjoy it we must go 
where it grows. To appreciate these characters we 
need not critical knowledge, but imaginative sym- 

There is an old Irish legend of a young hero 
who sailed to a far country and married a beauti- 
ful princess. Living there he enjoyed perpetual 
youth, and three centuries passed away as if they 
had been but three years. Then came a longing 
to return to his own native land. After much 
entreating his fair wife allowed him to return on 
one condition, and that was that he should not 
dismount from the white steed she gave him. 
The prince came back, but riding in youthful 
strength and beauty through the familiar land, at 
last he forgot the condition. Dismounting, his 
feet touched the ground, and the enchantment 
vanished. Suddenly he realized the passage of 
time. His friends, the heroes of his youth, were 
dead and forgotten. He was very old ; his strength 
had withered away. The joyous paganism in 
which he had been bred had been driven away. 
He saw processions of monks and nuns, and heard 
the sound of church bells, and saw over all the 


shadow of the cross. He belonged to the old order 
that had passed away, now the destinies of the 
land were in the hands of new men. 

Something of this same caution must be used 
by those who would see the St. Francis whom the 
people long ago loved and worshiped. He is 
the embodiment of mediaeval goodness. Let us 
beware of disenchanting literalism, lest suddenly 
the radiant youth disappear and we see only the 
relic of an age that has passed away. 

Let us not look back at St. Francis. Let us 
stand at the beginning of the thirteenth century 
and look forward. Let us share the dream of 
the youth who went through the forest singing 
the praise of God. 

The transformation of worldly ambition Into 
spiritual was never more vividly told than in the 
legend of St. Francis, by the Three Companions. 
We see Francis the gay son of Peter Bernardone, 
merchant of Assisi, transformed into a knight of 
Lady Poverty. 

" Then a few years later a certain noble of the 
city of Assisi provided himself with warlike gear 
to go into Apulia to increase his profit of money 
and renown. Upon hearing this, Francis did 


aspire to go with him and to be made a knight 
by a certain count, Gentile by name ; wherefore 
he made ready stuffs as costly as he could, poorer 
in riches than his fellow citizen, but more profuse 
in largesse. One night when he had given all 
his thoughts to bringing this to pass, and was 
fevered with the desire for making the journey, 
he was visited by the Lord, who draweth him as 
one eager for glory to the pinnacle of glory by a 
vision and uplifteth him. For while sleeping that 
night one appeared unto him, calling him by 
name, and leading him into the palace of a fair 
bride, very pleasant and full of knightly armor, 
to wit, glittering shields and other apparel hang- 
ing on the wall as it were waiting for knights to 
accoutre them therewithal. And while he, rejoi- 
cing greatly, marveled silently within himself what 
this might be, he asked whose were these arms 
flashing with such splendor and this so pleasant 
palace ? And the answer was made him that the 
palace and all things therein were his own and his 
knights'. And thus awakening with joyous heart 
he rose early. . . . And so much gayer than his 
wont did he seem that many wondered thereat, 
and asked whence had he such joy, unto whom 


he would reply, " I know that I shall be a great 

It was not the sense of sin that proved the 
beginning of a new life to this light-hearted Ital- 
ian. It was rather the sense of a higher chivalry. 
Another vision came to him. A voice asked, 
" ' Which can do the better for thee, the lord or 
the servant?' 

"And when he answered, ' The lord,' that other 
said again unto him , ' Wherefore then dost thou 
leave the lord for the servant, and a rich lord for 
a poor *?'... Then waking he began earnestly to 
ponder this vision. And just as in the first vision 
he had been, as it were, quite carried out of 
himself for his great joy, coveting worldly good 
fortune, so in this vision he withdrew within him- 
self entirely, wondering at its might, and medi- 
tating so earnestly that he could sleep no more 
that night." 

At last the new vision took form in an enthu- 
siastic way of life. In the church Francis heard 
the words of the gospels, " Take no gold nor 
silver nor money in your purses, nor two coats, 
nor shoes, nor staff." 

No further did he need to listen. Throwing 


away his purse, and putting on the garb of a 
peasant, he devoted himself henceforth not sim- 
ply to the service of the poor, but to the worship 
of Poverty. Dante in memorable words described 
this lover-like devotion. 

For he in youth his father's wrath incurred 
For certain Dame, to whom as unto death 
The gate of pleasure no one doth unlock ; 

Then day by day more fervently he loved her. 
She reft of her first husband, scorned, obscure. 
One thousand and one hundred years and more. 
Waited without a suitor till he came. 

So that when Mary still remained below 
She mounted up with Christ upon the cross! 
But that too darkly I may not proceed, 
Francis and Poverty for these two lovers 
Take thou henceforward in my speech diffuse. 
Their concord and their joyous semblances 
The love, the wonder, and the sweet regard. 
They made to be the cause of holy thoughts. 

Francis and Poverty — these lovers seem 
strange indeed to twentieth-century eyes. An age 
when philanthropy strives for the abolition of 
poverty and invites enlightened self-interest to its 
aid cannot readily understand one who welcomed 
poverty as a blessed condition. " No man," said a 


disciple of St. Francis, " was ever so covetous of 
wealth as he of poverty." 

We hear St. Francis discoursing with brother 
Leo concerning perfect bliss. It lies not in know- 
ledge or power or even in the ability to convert 
the infidels to the Holy Faith. " When we shall 
come to St. Mary of the Angels dripping with 
rain and tormented with cold and hunger, and we 
shall knock at the door, and the porter shall say, 
' Who are ye ? ' and we shall answer, ' We are 
your brethren,' and he shall say, ' You lie, you are 
two knaves that go about deceiving the people 
and stealing from the poor * — if, when he leaves 
us in the cold and wet we shall patiently endure, 
and say within ourselves, ' Perhaps the porter 
reads us aright,' then, O brother Leo, thou mayest 
say, ' Herein lies perfect bliss.' " 

We hear the passionate prayer, " O Lord Jesus, 
point out to me the ways of poverty which were 
so dear to thee. O Jesus, who chosest to be poor, 
the favor I ask of thee is to give me the privilege 
of poverty and to be enriched by thy blessing." 

This was not the temper of ordinary asceticism. 
St. Francis was in temper more an Epicurean than 
a Stoic. He was a lover of pleasure and was not 


content with any kind of pleasure short of what 
he conceived to be the highest. The ascetic was 
interested primarily in the salvation of his own 
soul. Wealth and comfort were the temptations 
of the devil to cheat him of his future reward. 
The hermit accepted poverty as the hard road to 
Heaven; to St. Francis it was Heaven itself. 

" Property is robbery," he would have said, but 
not in the sense in which a modern communist 
would use the words. It is the robbery not of 
one's neighbor but of one's self We take for 
granted that wealth is a good thing and poverty 
an evil. No, St. Francis would say, there is no 
good thing but what is good for the soul. It is 
good to be humble, sympathetic, and thankful. 
It is good to be conscious of God's presence 
everywhere and to be close to the lowliest of his 
creatures. The means of this grace are nearer to 
the peasant than to the prince. There are some 
things that wealth buys. The rich man has his 
comforts, his sheltered home, his group of friends 
and dependents, his servants and his wide estates ; 
his is the meekness that inherits the earth. 

St. Francis found joy in the sacrifices and aus- 
terities which to others were so painful. The pre- 


dominant note is that of gladness. In the midst 
of his penances he is light-hearted. He interpreted 
more literally than we do the words, " Take no 
thought for the morrow." Some things are pos- 
sible in Umbria and Galilee that seem wildly im- 
practicable under the fickle skies of New England. 
The sober prose of religion may be translated into 
all languages and verified by all human experi- 
ence, but there is an idyllic poetry of religion that 
belongs only to the climate where that poetry 
had birth. " The Little Flowers of St. Francis " 
grew out of the same kindly soil and under the 
same friendly skies that nourished the lilies that 
Jesus loved. 

St. Francis always wore his halo with an easy 
grace. In spite of his scourgings and fastings he 
was blithe and debonair. He was saint-errant, as 
full of romance as any knight-errant of them all. 
He was a lover of spiritual adventure, and de- 
lighted to attempt the impossible. 

To St. Francis voluntary poverty meant spir- 
itual freedom. The preacher was no longer de- 
pendent on powerful patrons or rich parishioners 
or even on the fickle multitudes. The missionary 
did not need a missionary board. He did not 


have to wait for a church building to be erected 
and a pulpit to be prepared. Even a hermitage 
was a superfluity. " The true hermit," said St. 
Francis, " carries his cell about with him." And 
so he and his disciples preached and asked no 
man's leave. Through all the byways of Italy 
they wandered, proclaiming that God was in 
the fields as well as in the churches. Entering a 
village Brother Francis would say, "Love God 
and repent, good people. Love God and do pen- 
ance." And Brother Egidio would say, "Yes, 
good people, do as Brother Francis says, for he 
says what is right." 

And if there were no people to preach to there 
were always our sisters, the birds, and now and 
then there was a wicked wolf who would yield to 
moral suasion. We smile at this way of preach- 
ing to every creature, but it is as we smile at the 
idiosyncrasies of one we love. 

Many a preacher who has confined his preach- 
ing to human kind has put less good sense into 
his sermons and shown less insight into the causes 
of sin than did Francis in his discourse to the 
wolf of Gubbio. The inhabitants who had suf- 
fered from his depredations hated him for his 


wolfish iniquities. The saint saw that the cause 
of the evil was economic rather than moral. He 
was a right-minded wolf; the trouble was that he 
was hungry. St. Francis entered into a covenant 
of peace with him. 

" 'Brother Wolf, inasmuch as it pleases you to 
make and keep this peace, I promise you that so 
long as you shall live you shall not suffer hunger, 
forasmuch as I am aware that hunger has caused 
your every crime. But since I have got for you 
this grace, I require. Brother Wolf, your promise 
never again to do harm to any human being, 
neither to any beast. Do you promise ? ' And 
St. Francis stretching forth his hand, the wolf 
uplifted his right paw and gave him the pledge 
of faith as best he could." 

It was in the same spirit that St. Francis 
went forth on his mission to the Sultan. The 
Crusaders had gone forth to destroy the infidels. 
Francis, in the simplicity of his heart, thought the 
better way would be to convert them. Neither 
way proved to be altogether effective, but cer- 
tainly the latter plan was the more Christian. 

In the history of preaching there have been 
many vicissitudes. Sometimes the preacher has 


been a philosopher, sometimes an advocate, some- 
times he has adopted the tone of a man of busi- 
ness. In the preaching of St. Francis we are taken 
back to the time of the wandering minstrels. 

" So great was the sweetness and consolation 
of his spirit that he called for Brother Pacificus 
whom the world entitled the King of Verse and 
Courteous Doctor of Song, and desired to send 
him with the other friars to go together through 
the world, preaching and singing the " Praises of 
the Lord." And he desired that he among them 
who was the best preacher should first preach to 
the people, and when the sermon was ended all 
the others should sing together the " Praises of the 
Lord," as the Lord's minstrels; and at the end 
he desired the preacher should say to the people, 
* We are the Lord's minstrels, and the reward we 
ask of you is that you turn to true repentance.' " 

No wonder that the people loved Brother Fran- 
cis when he brought religion to them in such a 
fashion, and that there would gather around him 

A crowd of shepherds with as sunburnt looks 
As may be read of m Arcadian books. 

With all his saintly austerities St. Francis 
was always a gentleman. Even the most admir- 


ing biographers cannot hide his humanness. The 
Lives of the Saints do not contain many such 
incidents as that in the chapter in " The Mirror 
of Perfection " entitled " How he comforted a 
Sick Friar by eating Grapes with Him." It was a 
httle thing to do, but I am sure that St. Dominic 
would never have thought of it. The friar had 
been overdoing the mortification of the flesh, and 
had fallen ill. " Blessed Francis said to himself: 
' If that friar would eat ripe grapes in the morn- 
ing I believe he would be cured ! And as he 
thought so he did. Rising early in the morning, 
he called the friar secretly, and took him to a 
vineyard near the place, and choosing a vine that 
had good grapes fit for eating, he sat down by the 
vine with the friar and began to eat grapes, that 
the friar should not be ashamed of eating alone. 
. . . And all the days of his life this friar remem- 
bered the pity and compassion shown him by the 
blessed Father, and would relate what had hap- 
pened to the other friars." 

It was an age of miracles, but St. Francis never 
allowed them to clutter up his little world. They 
must keep their place. When Brother Peter died 
in great sanctity, he was immediately worshiped 


as a saint. Great crowds came to his tomb, and 
many miracles were wrought. This was well, but 
there must be a measure in all things. So one day 
St. Francis went to the door of the tomb, and his 
most persuasive voice said, " Brother Peter, in 
your lifetime you gave perfect obedience. Know 
that your brethren are disturbed by the crowds 
that come to your tomb. I command you, by 
holy obedience, that you work no more miracles." 
And from that day Brother Peter abstained from 
any interference with the order of nature. 

A true son of the Church, yet because of the 
unworldliness of his nature Francis from the first 
transcended the sphere of ecclesiasticism, and lived 
in the freedom of the spirit. In an age when ritu- 
alism was triumphant he chose an unsacerdotal 
ministry. At a time when the highest piety was 
supposed to manifest itself in the building and 
adornment of churches, he insisted on the higher 
grace of charity. When a case of need was pre- 
sented to him, he said : " Sell the ornaments on 
the altar of the Blessed Virgin. Be assured that 
she would be more pleased to have her altar with- 
out adornment than to see the gospel of her Son 
any longer set at naught." 


Pope Innocent had many who came with am- 
bitious plans. There were always monks who 
desired to be abbots, and priests who desired to 
be bishops. But one day Brother Francis came 
desiring that he and certain poor brethren might 
be allowed to live according to the rule of the 
gospel. They were not content to be poor after 
the conventional fashion of the great monastic in- 
stitutions, where corporate wealth was married to 
individual poverty. Their poverty should be real. 
Almost everything had been organized around a 
treasury. They would like to organize brotherly 
kindness, patience, humility, and love according 
to their own laws. 

And the request was made so simply that Pope 
Innocent could do nothing but grant it, though 
it made his own ambitions stand out in startling 

The life of St. Francis was very mediaeval, 
which was but another way of saying that its 
idealism was not balanced by the scientific tem- 
per. Men in those days delighted in paradoxes, 
and were contented with no half measures. His 
experience was different from ours. He did not 


confront the poverty of the slums of our great 
cities. It was the poverty of Umbria. It was a 
poverty that was acquainted with hunger and 
which wore coarse garments, but it had the free- 
dom of the fields and the open roads. We 
have problems to solve with which he was un- 

Yet there is something in his daring paradox 
which attracts us. Beneath all its extravagance 
there is a vitality in the joyous worship of My 
Lady Poverty. For what is worship ? It is, lit- 
erally, worth-ship. It is the recognition of intrin- 
sic values. It is just here that the modern man is 
beginning to be distrustful of himself He has 
been marvelously successful in obtaining his de- 
sires, but has he desired the best things? In the 
height of his achievement he cannot help asking, 
"After all, is it worth what it has cost*?" 

Things turn out differently from what had been 
expected. A life devoted to personal gain is 
likely to be disappointing. A whole community 
which has no other means of estimating worth 
than the increase in wealth is still more disap- 
pointing. It has no proper means of government. 
A plutocracy is but another name for moral an- 


archy. Special interests become intolerably dom- 
ineering and override the common good. In a 
society where everything is measured by money, 
where is the limitation to despotism ? What 
is to prevent the rich man from buying up his 
neighbors and using all their talents to serve his 
own narrow purposes'? He is able to pay for the 
best food and drink and shelter. Why may he 
not bend to his will the best human ability ? 

The answer comes from the iconoclasts, who 
strike boldly at the idols of the market-place. 
They have something that is not for sale, and they 
can afford to laugh at the highest bidders. They 
are not asking favors. They are likely to be in- 
experienced in the ways of the world, but the 
world fears them as it fears all forces which it 
cannot understand. They cannot be cajoled or 
threatened, for they have learned that it is possible 
to be happy and poor. 

My Lady Poverty has still her worshipers. 
She has long been honored by the devotion of 
true artists. The man of science gravely acknow- 
ledges her, and confesses without shame that he is 
too busy to make money. There are statesmen 
who are the despair of the party managers because 


when the question comes, " What can we do for 
you *? " they answer " Nothing." Every now and 
then there occurs that disconcerting phenomenon 
which we call genius. It upsets all calculations 
and refuses to respond to the law of supply and 
demand. The second best may be bought, but the 
very best is given away. Now and then, too, out 
of our conventional gentilities there comes an 
ideal gentleman. He would adorn the most ex- 
clusive circles, were it not that he has a passion 
for the best society, and he has learned that the 
best society is never exclusive. He takes the part 
of the uttermost man, and finds his joy in the com- 
panionship of those who are aspiring and strug- 
gling. And there is the increasing number of the 
nature-lovers who enter into the religious feelings 
which St. Francis voiced in " The Song of the 
Creatures." They love one who could worship 
out of doors, and speak familiarly of Master Sun 
and Brother Wind and Sister Water. As they sit 
around their campfires they join heartily in the 
praise of Brother Fire. " He is jocund, robust, 
and strong and bright." 

They love to read again the story of how St. 
Francis and Brother Masseo stopped at noon 


under a tree where there was a broad smooth stone 
to serve as a table for their simple meal. Close 
by was a spring of cold water. 

" What a treasure we have here ! " cried Francis 
in delight. 

" Father," answered Brother Masseo, " how can 
you talk so when we have no tablecloth or knife 
or cup I " 

Brother Masseo voices the opinion of the major- 
ity, but there are increasing numbers of true 
Franciscans. St. Francis is the patron saint of 
those who believe in Nature as well as in Grace. 
In spite of all his austerities he is endeared to us 
because he represented the bohemianism of piety. 


THE exercises of Commencement Day had 
been unusually interesting, though pro- 
longed. I had attended them all. I had listened 
to the wisdom of the selected members of the 
graduating class, and afterwards to the less digni- 
fied but more optimistic remarks of the old grad- 
uates. The general impression that I received 
was that though the country had been in danger, 
the worst was over. 

Returning home I found a caller waiting for me 
in the library. He was a rather handsome man in 
his way, but a close observer might have noticed 
a certain shiftiness in his eyes and hard lines about 
his mouth, and perhaps other signs of a misspent 
life. Not being a close observer, I did not notice 
any of these things. He struck me as an ordinary 
person with whom it might be a pleasure to talk. 
I was somewhat surprised at his first remark, 
which was made by way of introduction. 


" I am," he said, " well known to the police, 
and am said to be the most dangerous criminal of 
my class now at large. I am an expert forger and 
have served time in four prisons." 

His frank statement was preliminary to the re- 
quest for a temporary loan that would enable him 
to complete the work of reformation, that was en- 
dangered by a lack of funds. It was late in the 
day, and before acceding to his request it was 
necessary that there should be some investigation, 
so I asked him to call on the morrow. 

" I have been at the Commencement exercises 
all day," I said, " and am not in a condition to be 
of much help to you just now; but if you would 
like to stay a while and chat, I should be glad." 

He welcomed the suggestion, and, now that the 
matter of business had been postponed, he was at 
his ease. In a friendly way he made me acquainted 
with the general theory of forging and check-rais- 
ing, — at least so far as it is intelligible to the lay 
mind. His criticism of prison management was 
acute, and he pointed out the seamy side of the 
plans of the reformers. I listened with docility to 
his story of the under world. He was a well-edu- 
cated man with an appreciation of good literature. 


which was a characteristic, he informed me, of most 
forgers. He was especially interested in sociology, 
and had all its best phrases at his tongue's end. He 
attributed all his misfortunes to Society. For one 
thing I listened in vain, — the admission that in 
some respects he might himself have been remiss. 
The idea of reciprocal obligation did not seem to 
have any place in his philosophy. As delicately 
as I could I tried to turn the conversation from 
the sin of Society, which I readily acknowledged, 
to the less obvious point of personal responsi- 
bility. Granting that Society was imperfectly 
organized, that juries were ignorant, and judges 
lacking in the quality of mercy, and prison ward- 
ens harsh, and chaplains too simple-minded, were 
there not faults on the other side that it might 
be profitable to correct ? It was of no use to try 
to induce such currents of thought; they were 
quickly short-circuited. 

At last I said, "You have told me what you 
did before you concluded to reform. I am curi- 
ous to know how, in those days, you looked at 
things. Was there anything which you would n't 
have done, not because you were afraid of the 
law, but because you felt it would be wrong ? " 


" Yes," he said, " there is one thing I never 
would do, because it always seemed low down. 
I never would steal." 

It was evident that further discussion would be 
unprofitable without definition of terms. I found 
that by stealing he meant petty larceny, which he 
abhorred. In our condemnation of the sneak thief 
and the pickpocket we were on common ground. 
His feeling of reprobation was, if anything, more 
intense than that which I felt at the time. He 
alluded to the umbrellas and other portable arti- 
cles he had noticed in the hallway. Any one 
who would take advantage of an unsuspecting 
householder by purloining such things was a de- 
generate. He had no dealings with such moral 

It seemed to me that I might press the analogy 
which instantly occurred to me between " steal- 
ing " and forgery. 

" Do they not," I said, " seem to you to amount 
to very much the same thing ? " 

I had struck a wrong note. Analogies are 
ticklish things to handle, for things which are 
alike in certain respects are apt to be quite differ- 
ent in other respects. His mind was intent on 


the differences. The sneak thief, he told me, is 
a vulgar fellow of no education. The forger and 
the check-raiser are experts. They are playing 
a game. Their wits are pitted against the wits of 
the men who are paid high salaries for detecting 
them. They belong to quite different spheres. If 
we are looking for analogies we should look up 
and not down. 

" You wanted to know," he said, " what was 
the difference between stealing and check-raising. 
Now, let me ask you a question. What 's the 
difference between check-raising and some of 
those big financial operations we 've all been read- 
ing about? Suppose I have a check for five 
dollars, and I put my brains into it and I manip- 
ulate it so that I can pass it off for five hun- 
dred. I shove it in to the cashier and he takes it. 
Before he finds out his mistake, I have made 
myself scarce. What 's the difference between 
that transaction and what the ' big fellows ' on the 
street are doing ? " He mentioned several names 
that I had not thought of in that connection. 

" The difference," said I, " is — " Then it oc- 
curred to me that it was a subject to which I 
should give further thought. So we postponed 


the conversation till he should call again — 
which he never did. 

I may be doing injustice to my friend the 
forger, but he gave me the impression that he 
considered himself to be, on the whole, a rather 
admirable character. His proposed change of 
business seemed to be rather a concession to the 
prejudices of the legal profession than the result 
of any personal scruple. As he saw himself 
he was a man of idealistic temper whose ideals 
conflicted with social usage. Society was all the 
time getting into his way, and in the inevitable 
collisions he had usually the worst of it. He 
regretted this, but he bore no malice. By the 
time a man has reached middle life and accumu- 
lated a good deal of experience he takes the world 
as he finds it. 

He had encased himself in a moral system 
which was self-consistent and which explained to 
his own satisfaction all that had happened to him. 
One thing fitted into another, and there was no 
room for self-reproach. 

Many attempts have been made to depict the 


character of an accomplished scamp. But Gil Bias 
and Roderick Random and Jonathan Wild the 
Great are after all seen from the outside. The 
author may attempt to do them justice, but there 
is a vein of irony that reveals a judgment of his 
own. They lack the essential element of incor- 
rigibility, which is that the scamp does not sus- 
pect himself, has not found himself out. 

No novelist has ever been able to give such a 
portraiture of a complacent criminal as was given 
a century ago in the autobiography of Stephen 

Burroughs was the son of a worthy clergyman 
of Hanover, New Hampshire, and from the outset 
was looked upon as a black sheep. As a mere 
boy he ran away from home and joined the army, 
and then with equal irresponsibility deserted. He 
became a ship's surgeon, a privateersman, then a 
self-ordained minister, a counterfeiter, a teacher 
of youth, a founder of libraries, and a miscella- 
neous philanthropist. He was a patriot and an 
optimist and an enthusiastic worker in the cause 
of general education. He was chock-full of fine 
sentiment and had a gift for its expression. He 
enjoyed doing good, though in his own way, and 


never neglected any opportunity to rebuke those 
who he felt were in the wrong. He had a desire 
to reform the world, and had no doubt of the plans 
which he elaborated. He was capable on occa- 
sions of acts of magnanimity, which, while not 
appreciated by the public, gave him great pleas- 
ure in the retrospect. The intervals between his 
various enterprises were spent in New England 
jails. These experiences only deepened his love of 
liberty, which was one of the passions of his life. 

Burroughs had a happy disposition that enabled 
him to get a measure of satisfaction out of all the 
vicissitudes of his life. He had learned neither 
to worry nor to repine. He was not troubled by 
the harsh judgments of his fellow men, for he had 
learned to find his happiness in the approbation 
of his own conscience. 

He writes : " I possess an uncommon share 
of sensibility, and at the same time maintain an 
equality of mind that is uncommon, particularly 
in the midst of those occurrences which are cal- 
culated to wound the feelings. I have learned 
fortitude in the school of adversity. In draining 
the cup of bitterness to its dregs, I have been 
taught to despise the occurrences of misfortune. 


This one thing I fully believe, that our happiness 
is more in our power than is generally thought, 
or at least we have the ability of preventing that 
misery which is so common to unfortunate situ- 
ations. No state or condition in life, but from 
which we may (if we exercise that reason which 
the God of Nature has given us) draw comfort 
and happiness. We are too apt to be governed 
by the opinions of others, and if they think our 
circumstances unhappy, to consider them so our- 
selves, and of course make them so. The state of 
mind is the only criterion of happiness or misery." 

It was from this lofty point of view that Ste- 
phen Burroughs wrote the history of his own life. 
His tendency to didacticism interferes with the 
limpid flow of the narrative. Sometimes a whole 
chapter will be given over to moralizings, but the 
observations are never painful. They all reveal 
the author's cheerful acquiescence in the inevita- 
bility of his own actions. Along with this there 
is the air of chastened surprise over the fact that 
he was made the object of persecution. 

At the very beginning of the narrative one re- 
cognizes an independence which would do credit 
to a better man. In New England, clergymen 


have always been looked upon as making good 
ancestors, and Burroughs might have been par- 
doned if he had shown some family pride. From 
this weakness he was free. " I am," he says, " the 
only son of a clergyman, living in Hanover, in 
the State of New Hampshire; and were any 
to expect merit from their parentage, I might 
justly look for that merit. But I am so far a Re- 
publican that I consider a man's merit to rest 
entirely with himself, without any regard to 
family, blood, or connection." 

The accounts of the escapades of his boyhood 
are intermingled with dissertations on the educa- 
tion of youth. " I have been in the habit of ed- 
ucating youth for seven years, constantly ; in the 
course of my business I have endeavored to study 
the operations of the human heart, that I might 
be able to afford that instruction which would be 
salutary; and in this I find one truth clearly es- 
tablished, viz. : a child will endeavor to be what 
you make him think mankind in general are." 

The neglect of this truth on the part of his 
parents and teachers was the cause of much annoy- 
ance to Burroughs. Throughout his life he was 
the innocent victim of an educational mistake. 


Though after awhile he learned to forgive the early 
injustice, one can see that it rankled. He endeav- 
ored to think well of mankind in general, but it 
was more difficult than if he had been habituated 
to the exercise in infancy. 

At Dartmouth young Burroughs was pecu- 
liarly unfortunate ; he fell into bad company. As 
an unkind fate would have it, his room-mate was 
an exemplary young man who was studying for 
the ministry. It appears that this misguided youth 
attempted to entice him into what he describes as 
" a sour, morose, and misanthropic line of con- 
duct." Nothing could have been more disastrous. 
" To be an inmate with such a character, you will 
readily conceive, no way comported with a dis- 
position like mine, and consequently we never 
enjoyed that union and harmony of feeling in our 
intercourse as room-mates which was necessary 
for the enjoyment of social life." 

To the malign influence of his priggish room- 
mate several misfortunes were attributed. In en- 
deavoring to restore the moral equilibrium which 
had been disturbed by the too great scrupulosity 
of his chum, he exerted too much strength in the 
other direction. The result was that " a powerful 


triumvirate " was formed against him in the Fac- 
ulty. The triumvirate triumphed and his connec- 
tion with Dartmouth ended suddenly. 

This gave occasion to a chapter on the failure 
of the institutions of learning to prepare for real 
life. The author declares "more than one half 
of the time spent in the universities, according 
to their present establishment on this continent, 
is thrown away, and that my position is founded 
in fact I will endeavor to prove." 

I do not see how his argument is affected by 
the fact to which the editor calls attention in a 
carping footnote. " It is not strange that the au- 
thor should reason in this manner. He was ex- 
pelled from college in the second quarter of his 
second year, and in fact he studied but little while 
he was a member." The editor, I fear, had a nar- 
row mind and judged according to an academic 
standard which Burroughs would have despised. 

From the uncongenial limitations of a college 
town it was a satisfaction to escape to sea. Here 
Burroughs's versatility stood him in good stead. 
" Having no doctor engaged, I undertook to act 
in that capacity ; and after obtaining the assist- 
ance, advice, and direction of an old practitioner, 


together with marks set on each parcel of medi- 
cine, I thought myself tolerably well qualified to 
perform the office of a physician on board the ship." 

From his seafaring life Burroughs returned 
with his reputation under a cloud. There were 
ugly rumors afloat which were readily believed 
by a censorious world. For once he confesses 
that his philosophy failed him. " I returned to 
my father's house sunken and discouraged ; the 
world appeared a gloomy chaos ; the sun arose 
to cast a sickly glimmer on surrounding objects ; 
the flowers of the field insulted my feelings with 
their gayety and splendor ; the frolicsome lamb, 
the playful kitten, and the antic colt were beheld 
with those painful emotions which are beyond 
description. Shall all nature, shall the brute cre- 
ation break out into irregular transports, by the 
overflowing of pleasing sensations, whilst I am 
shut out from even the dim rays of hope ? " 

Certainly not. To a mind constituted as was 
his there was an absurdity in the very suggestion. 
The brute creation should not have any mono- 
poly of comfortable sensations, so he cheered up 
immediately and spent the next year loafing 
around his father's house. 


He had been on the coast of Africa and had 
taken part in some strange scenes, but his moral 
sense had not been blunted to such an extent that 
he could not grieve over some infractions of the 
moral law which he observed in peaceful Han- 
over. He regretted that he had been led inadver- 
tently by a young man named Huntington to 
join a party which robbed a farmer's beehive. 

"For some unaccountable reason or other, 
youth are carried away with false notions of right 
and wrong. I know, for instance, that Huntington 
possessed those principles of integrity that no 
consideration would have induced him to deprive 
another of any species of property, except fruit, 
bees, pigs, and poultry. And why it is considered 
by youth that depriving another of these articles 
is less criminal than stealing any other kind of 
property, I cannot tell." 

Burroughs himself was inclined to take a 
harsher view of these transgressions than he did 
of some others ; for example, of counterfeiting, 
in which he was afterwards for a time engaged 
during one of his brief pastorates. 

The argument by which his scruples in this par- 
ticular were overcome are worth repeating. The 


law was indeed violated in its letter, but might 
not a justification be found by one who interpreted 
it in a large spirit of charity ? 

"Money is of itself of consequence only as 
we annex to it a nominal value as the represen- 
tation of property. Therefore we find the only 
thing necessary to make a matter valuable is to 
induce the world to deem it so ; and let that es- 
teem be raised by any means whatever, yet the 
value is the same, and no one becomes injured 
by receiving it at the valuation." 

The principle of fiat money having been estab- 
lished, the only question that remained was 
whether the circumstances of the times were such 
as to justify him in issuing the fiat. The answer 
was in the affirmative. " That an undue scarcity 
of cash now prevails is a truth too obvious for 
me to attempt to prove. Hence whoever contrib- 
utes to increase the quantity of cash does not only 
himself but likewise the community an essential 

It was in his attempt to benefit the community 
in this way that he first experienced the ingrati- 
tude of republics, being landed in the Northamp- 
ton jail. 


But to see Burroughs at his best one must 
enter into his thoughts at that crisis in his hfe 
when he determined that his true vocation was 
preaching. He lingers fondly on his emotions 
at that period. It was at a time when he had 
been driven out of Hanover for conduct which 
had outraged the feehngs of that long-suffering 

" One pistareen was all the ready cash I had on 
hand, and the suddenness with which I departed 
deprived me of the chance to raise more. Travel- 
ing on leisurely I had time for reflection." 

As was usually the case when he reflected, he 
grew more serene and enjoyed a frame of mind 
that bordered on the heroic. 

" I began to look about me to see what was to 
be done in my present situation and to what busi- 
ness I could turn my attention. The practice of 
law, which would have been most to my mind, I 
could not undertake until I had spent some time 
in the study, which would have been attended 
with expense far beyond my abilities ; therefore 
this object must be laid aside. Physic was under 
the same embarrassments; business in the mer- 
cantile line I could not pursue for want of capital. 


. . . What can be done? There is one thing, 
said contrivance, that you can do, and it will an- 
swer your purpose — preach." 

The idea came to him as an inspiration, but 
immediately there was suggested an objection 
which to a less resourceful mind would have 
seemed insuperable. " What an appearance should 
I make in my present dress *? which consisted of a 
light gray coat, with silver-plated buttons, green 
vest, and red velvet breeches." 

Down the Connecticut valley he trudged, call- 
ing to mind his father's old sermons and gradually 
working himself into a state of pious rapture. The 
heart of no young pulpiteer beat with more appro- 
priate emotions than his, when on the next Sun- 
day, under an assumed name, he preached his first 
sermon in the village of Ludlow. " I awoke with 
anxious palpitation for the issue of the day. I con- 
sidered this as the most important scene of my 
life — that, in a great measure, my future happi- 
ness or wretchedness depended on my conduct 
this day. The time for assembling approached ! 
I saw the people come together. My feelings 
were up in arms against me, my heart would al- 
most leap into my mouth. What a strange thing, 


said I, is man ! Why am I thus perturbated by 
these whimsical feehngs ! " 

The moment he began the service these per- 
turbations came to an end. Words came in a 
steady flow, and he felt sure that he had found his 
true caUing in hfe. " No monarch when seated 
on a throne had more sensible feelings of pro- 
sperity than what I experienced at this time." 

The neighboring town of Pelham being with- 
out a minister, Burroughs presented himself as a 
candidate, and was enthusiastically accepted. He 
made a specialty of funeral sermons, and was soon 
in demand in all the surrounding country. It was 
at this time also that he became acquainted with 
the coiner who showed him how he might surrep- 
titiously increase the amount of cash in circulation. 
All went well till an enemy appeared who called 
him by name and revealed his antecedents. All 
Pelham was in an uproar, for the Pelhamites were 
"a people generally possessing violent passions, 
which, once disturbed, raged uncontrolled by the 
dictates of reason, unpolished in their manners, 
possessing a jealous disposition, and either very 
friendly or very inimical, not knowing a medium 
between these extremes." 


In this case they suddenly became very inim- 
ical, and Burroughs was again compelled to de- 
part under cover of darkness. His night thoughts 
were always among his very best. 

"Journeying on, I had time for reflection. At 
the dead of night — all alone — reflection would 
have its operation. A very singular scene have I 
now passed through, said I, and to what does it 
amount ? Have I acted with propriety as a man, 
or have I deviated from the path of rectitude ? I 
have had an unheard-of, disagreeable part to act ; 
I do not feel entirely satisfied with myself in this 
business, and yet I do not know how I could have 
done otherwise, and have made the matter better. 
My situation has been such that I have violated 
the principle of veracity which we implicitly 
pledge ourselves to maintain towards each other, 
as a general thing, in society. Whether my pecu- 
liar circumstances would warrant such a line of 
procedure is the question. I know many things 
will be said in favor of it as well as against it." 

From this difficult question of casuistry he 
found relief in reverting to the one instance in 
which he had been clearly wrong, viz., joining 
the young men in Hanover in their raid on the 


farmer's beehive. " My giving countenance to an 
open breach of the laws of the land in the case of 
the bees was a matter in which I was justly re- 
prehensible ; but that matter is now past. I must 
take things as they are, and under these circum- 
stances do the best I can. I know the world will 
blame me, but I wish to justify my conduct to 
myself, let the world think what it may." 

In this endeavor he was highly successful ; and 
as he walked on, his spirits rose. He contrasted 
his own clear views with the muddled ideas of 
his late parishioners. " They understand the mat- 
ter in the gross, that I have preached under a 
fictitious name and character, and consequently 
have roused many ideas in the minds of the 
people not founded on fact. Therefore they con- 
cluded from this general view the whole to be 
founded on wrong. The name impostor is there- 
fore easily fixed on my character. An impostor, 
we generally conceive, puts on feigned appear- 
ances in order to enrich or aggrandize himself to 
the damage of others. That this is not the case 
with me in this transaction, I think is clear. That 
I have aimed at nothing but the bare necessaries 
of life, is a fact." 


Having thus cleared himself of the charge of 
imposture, he determined to rest his case on the 
broad ground of religious liberty. " That I have 
a good and equitable right to preach, if I choose 
and others choose to hear me, is a truth of which 
I entertain no doubt." 

When he was pursued into the borders of the 
town of Rutland, it was too much for his patience. 
"I turned and ran about twenty rods down a 
small hill, and the Pelhamites all after me, halloo- 
ing with all their might, ' Stop him ! stop him ! ' 
To be pursued like a thief, an object of universal 
speculation to the inhabitants of Rutland, gave me 
very disagreeable sensations, which I determined 
not to bear. I therefore stopped, took up a stone, 
and declared that the first who should approach 
me I would kill on the spot. To hear such lan- 
guage and to see such a state of determined de- 
fiance in one whom they had lately reverenced 
as a clergyman struck even the people of Pelham 
with astonishment and fear." 

By the way, there follows a scene which makes 
us suspect that parts of Massachusetts in the good 
old days may have had a touch of " the wild 
West." The two deacons who were leaders of the 


mob drew attention to the fact that besides hav- 
ing come to them under false pretenses Burroughs 
had absconded with five dollars that had been ad- 
vanced on his salary. He owed them one sermon 
which was theirs of right. In the present excited 
state of public opinion it was obviously impos- 
sible for Burroughs to deliver the sermon, but it 
was suggested that he might give an equiva- 
lent. A peacemaker intervened, saying, " Wood 
keeps an excellent tavern hard by; I propose 
for all to move up there." This proposal was 
accepted by all. " I therefore came down, and we 
all went up towards the tavern. I called for drink, 
according to the orator's advice, to the satisfac- 
tion of all." 

After that the career of Burroughs went on 
from bad to worse, but never was he without the 
inner consolations that belong to those who are 
misunderstood by the world. Even when he un- 
successfully sought to set fire to the jail he was 
full of fine sentiments borrowed from Young's 
"Night Thoughts." He quotes the whole passage 

Night, sable goddess ! from her ebon throne. 

This he seems to consider to be in some way a 


justification for his action. He is ever of the 
opinion that a man's heart can not be wrong so 
long as he is able to quote poetry. 

The various incarcerations to which he was 
subjected might only have imbittered a less mag- 
nanimous mind. They rather instilled into Bur- 
roughs a missionary spirit. He felt that he ought 
to take more pains to enlighten the ignorance of 
the world in regard to his excellent qualities. " I 
have many times lamented my want of patient 
perseverance in endeavoring to convince my per- 
secutors of their wrong by the cool dictates of 
reason. Error once seen ought to be corrected. 
The pruning hook should never be laid aside; 
then we should live up to the condition of our 
nature, which requires a state of improving and 
progressing in knowledge till time shall cease." 

But even Burroughs was human. It is easier 
to bear great misfortunes than to meet the petty 
annoyances of every-day life. To one who plans 
his life in such a way as to depend largely on the 
casual gifts of strangers, their dilatoriness is often 
a cause of real anxiety. 

Here is a painful incident which happened to 
him in Philadelphia. He applied to a member of 


Congress for a small sum of money. The gentle- 
man was not all that he should have been. " The 
most striking features of his character were his 
great fondness for close metaphysical reasoning 
and a habit of great economy in his domestic 
concerns, and he had so long practiced upon this 
system that any variation from it in a person's 
conduct or any want of success in a person's 
undertakings were, in his view, perfectly wrong. 
This was the man to whom I applied as my ulti- 

We can see at a glance that such a man was 
likely to be disappointing. 

" I described my circumstances to him in as clear 
terms as possible, and afterwards told him of the 
request I wished to make. Without giving me an 
answer either in the affirmative or the negative, 
he went on with a lengthy discourse to prove that 
my system of economy had been wrong, drawing 
a comparison between his prosperity and my ad- 
versity, and then pointed out a certain line of con- 
duct that I ought then to take up and observe, 
and offered to assist me in prosecuting such ; but 
as his plan had many things in it which I could 
not reconcile my mind to, I took the Hberty of 


reasoning with him upon a better plan which I 
had marked out in my own mind." 

Upon this, the congressman became obstinate 
and would do nothing. His depravity came to 
Burroughs as a sudden shock. 

" When I took a view of the world, of the pomp 
and splendor which surrounded crowds which 
perpetually passed before my eyes, to see them 
roll in affluence and luxury, inhabiting lofty 
houses, with superb equipages, and feasting upon 
all the delicacies of life, under these affluent cir- 
cumstances withholding from me what would 
never have been missed from their superfluity, 
this brought to my mind a train of ideas that were 
desperate and horrid. . . . My eyes lighted up 
with indignation, my countenance was fortified 
with despair, my heart was swollen to that bigness 
which was almost too large for my breast to con- 
tain. Under this situation I arose with a tranquil 
horror, composedly took my hat, and politely bid 
Mr. Niles farewell. I believe the desperate emo- 
tions of my heart were apparently manifested to 
his view by my countenance ; his apparent im- 
movability relaxed, he put his hand in his pocket, 
and handed me three dollars. This act of kind- 


ness in a moment melted the ferocious feelings of 
my heart, all those desperate sensations vanished, 
and I found myself a man." 

Dear reader, have you not often taken a part 
in such a scene ? When instead of handing out 
your dollars at once you conditioned them upon 
adherence to some " line of conduct," — your con- 
science accuses you that you might have pointed 
even to the buck-saw, — do you realize what a 
pitiful spectacle you made of yourself? 

Stephen Burroughs does not at all fulfill our 
preconceived notion of an habitual criminal. He 
did not love evil for its own sake. His crimes 
were incidental, and he mentions them only as the 
unfortunate results of circumstances beyond his 
own control. His life was rather spent in the con- 
templation of virtue. There were some virtues 
which came easy to him, and he made the most 
of them. Like an expert prestidigitator, he kept 
the attention fixed on what was irrelevant, so that 
what was really going on passed unnoticed. He 
had eliminated personal responsibility from his 
scheme of things, and then proceeded as if nothing 
were lacking. He had one invariable measure for 


right and wrong. That was right which minis- 
tered to his own peace of body and of mind ; that 
was wrong which did otherwise. 

We are coming to see that that imperturb- 
able egotism is the characteristic of the *' criminal 
mind " that is least susceptible to treatment. Sins 
of passion are often repented of as soon as they 
are committed. Sins of ignorance are cured by 
letting in the light. Sins of weakness yield to an 
improved environment. But what are you going 
to do with the man who is incapable of seeing 
that he is in the wrong? Treat him with com- 
passion, and he accepts the kindness as a tribute 
to his own merits ; attempt to punish him, and he 
is a martyr ; reason with him, and his controversial 
ardor is aroused in defense of his favorite thesis. 

Sometimes the lover of humanity, after he has 
tried everything which he can think of to make 
an impression on such a character and to bring 
him to a realizing sense of social responsibility, 
becomes utterly discouraged. He feels tempted 
to give up trying any longer. In this he is wrong. 
He should not allow himself to be discouraged. 
Something must be done, even though nobody 
knows what it is. 


But if the lover of humanity should give up for 
a time and take a rest by turning his attention to 
a more hopeful case, I should not be too hard on 
him. My Pardoner, I am sure, must have some 
indulgence for such a weakness. 


I SAT down by the wayside of life like a 
man under enchantment." So Nathaniel Haw- 
thorne wrote of his own visionary youth, and, 
truth to tell, the spell lasted through life. 

The wayside itself was not conducive to dreams. 
It was a busy thoroughfare. Eager traffickers jos- 
tled one another, and there was much crying up 
of new wares. Many important personages went 
noisily along. There was a fresh interest in all sorts 
of good works and many improvements on the 
roadway. There were not many priests or Levites 
passing by on the other side, for ecclesiasticism was 
not in fashion, but there were multitudes of Good 
Samaritans, each one intent on his own brand-new 
device for universal helpfulness. There were so 
many of them that the poor man who fell among 
philanthropists often sighed for the tender mercies 
of the thieves. The thieves, at least, when they 
had done their work would let him alone. From 


time to time there would come groups of eager 
reformers, advance agents of the millennium. At 
last there came down the road troops hurrying 
to the front, and there was the distant sound of 

It was a stirring time, the noon of the nine- 
teenth century; and the stir was nowhere more 
felt than in New England. It was a ferment of 
speculation, a whirl of passion, a time of great 
aspiration and of no mean achievement. 

But if you would get a sense of all this, do not 
turn to the pages of Nathaniel Hawthorne. The 
ardor of Transcendentalism, the new spirit of 
reform, the war between the States, — these were 
noted, but they made no very vivid impression on 
the man who sat under enchantment. There was 
an interval between these happenings and his 
consciousness that made them seem scarcely con- 

It is a fashion in literary criticism to explain 
an author by his environment. With Hawthorne 
this method is not successful. It is not that his 
environment was not interesting in itself His 
genius was essentially aloof It was a plant that 
drew its nourishment from the air rather than from 


the soil. There are some men who have the happy 
faculty of making themselves at home wherever 
they happen to be. Hawthorne, wherever he had 
been born, would have looked upon the scene 
with something of a stranger's eye. Indeed, when 
we think about it, the wonder is that most of us 
are able to take the world in such a matter-of-fact 
way. One would suppose that we had always been 
here, instead of being transient guests who cannot 
even engage our rooms a day in advance. 

It is perhaps a happy limitation which makes 
us to forget our slight tenure, and to feel an abso- 
lute ownership in the present moment. We are 
satisfied with the passing experience because it 
appears to us as permanent. 

To the man who sat by the wayside the present 
moment did not stand in the sunshine sufficient 
unto itself It did not appear, as it did to the man 
of affairs, an ultimate and satisfying reality. He 
was not unobservant. He saw the persons passing 
by. But each one, in the present moment, seemed 
but a fugitive escaping from the past into the 
future. Futile flight ! unavailing freedom ! for in 
the Future the Past stands waiting for it. As he 
looked at each successive action it was as one who 


watches the moving shadow of an old deed, which 
now for some creature has become doom. 

Did I say that Hawthorne was Httle influenced 
by his environment *? It would be truer to say 
that the environment to which he responded was 
that to which most men are so strangely oblivious. 
He felt what another Salem mystic has expressed : 

Around us ever lies the enchanted land 

In marvels rich to thine own sons displayed. 

The true-born Yankee has always persisted, in 
spite of the purists, in using " I guess " as equiva- 
lent to " I think." To his shrewd good-humored 
curiosity, all thinking resolves itself into a kind 
of guesswork ; and one man has as good a right 
to his guess as another. 

It is a far cry from the talk of the village store 
to Emerson and Hawthorne, but to these New 
Englanders thinking was still a kind of guessing. 
The observer looks at the outward show of things, 
which has such an air of finality, and says, " I 
guess there 's something behind all this. I guess 
it 's worth while to look into it." 

Such a mind is not deterred by the warnings 
of formal logic that there is " no thoroughfare." 
When it leaves the public road and sees the sign 


" Private way, dangerous passing," it says, " that 
looks interesting. I guess I '11 take that." 

And from our streets and shops and news- 
papers, from our laboratories and lecture rooms 
and bureaus of statistics, it is, after all, such a 
little way to the border-land of mystery, where all 
minds are on an equality and where the wisest 
can but dimly guess the riddles that are pro- 

Hawthorne belonged to no school or party. 
To the men of his generation he was like the 
minister of whom he writes who preached with 
a veil over his face. 

Nor is his relation in thought to his ancestry 
more intimate than that to his contemporaries. 
Born to the family of New England Puritanism, 
we think we recognize the family likeness — and 
yet we are not quite sure. There are traits that 
suggest a spiritual changeling. 

When we enter into the realm of Hawthorne's 
imagination we are conscious of sombre realities. 

Is not this a survival of the puritanic spirit, 
with its brooding mysticism, its retributive pre- 
destination, its sense of the judgment to come ? 
It was said of Carlyle that he was a Calvinist who 


had lost his creed. May not the same be said of 
Hawthorne? The old New England theology 
had in him become attenuated to a mere film, but 
through it all may we not see the old New Eng- 
land conscience *? 

Doubtless there is much of this transmitted 
influence. Hawthorne himself insisted upon it. 
Speaking of " the stern and black-browed Puri- 
tan ancestors," he said, "Let them scorn me as they 
will, strong traits of their nature have intertwined 
themselves with mine." 

But it is possible to exaggerate such likenesses. 
In Hawthorne's case there is danger of argument 
in a circle. We say that there is something in 
Hawthorne's imagination, in its sombre mysti- 
cism, in its brooding sense of destiny, which is 
like that of the spirit of the inhabitants of Salem 
and Boston in the old days when they walked 
through the narrow streets and through the shad- 
owy woodland ways pondering the fatal sequences 
of life. 

But how do we see these old Puritans ? We 
see them through Hawthorne's eyes. His imagi- 
nation peoples for us the old houses. Was Haw- 
thorne's genius tinged with Puritanism, or are our 


conceptions of the Puritan character largely Haw- 
thornesque ? It is not necessary to argue this 
matter ; it might be better to answer " Yes " to 
both questions. 

It is the privilege of a creative genius to im- 
print his own features upon his forbears. It is dif- 
ficult here to determine which is cause and which 
is effect. How marvelously Rembrandt gets the 
spirit of the Dutch Burgomeisters I It was for- 
tunate for him that he had such subjects, — stal- 
wart men with faces that caught the light so 
marvelously. Yes, but had it not been for 
Rembrandt, who would have told us that these 
Dutch gentlemen were so picturesque ? 

The subject of a good artist is accurately fig- 
ured ; the subject of a great artist is transfigured. 
We cannot separate the historic reality from the 
transfiguring light. 

But however Hawthorne may have been influ- 
enced by his Puritan inheritance, it would be hard 
to find one whose habitual point of view was fur- 
ther removed from what we are accustomed to 
call the "New England conscience." It is the 
characteristic of that type of conscience that it 
has an ever-present and sometimes oppressive 


sense of personal responsibility. It is militant 
and practical rather than mystical. To it evil is 
not something to be endured but something to be 
resisted. If there is a wrong it must be righted, 
and with as little delay as possible. 

The highest praise a Puritan could give his 
pastor was that he was "a painful preacher." 
Jonathan Mitchell, writing of the beginnings of 
the church in Cambridge, says that the people 
of Cambridge " were a gracious, savory-spirited 
people, principled by Mr. Sheperd, liking an 
humbling, heart-breaking ministry and spirit." 

The Puritan theology was based on predesti- 
nation, but the Puritan temper was not fatalistic. 
When that latter-day Puritan, Lyman Beecher, 
was expounding the doctrines of the divine de- 
crees, one of his sons asked him, " Father, what 
if we are decreed to be lost *? " The answer was, 
" Fight the decrees, my boy I " 

The Calvinistic spirit was exactly opposite to 
the fatalistic acquiescence which shifts the respon- 
sibility from the creature to the Creator. To be 
sure the fall of man took place a long time ago, 
but we cannot say that it was none of our busi- 
ness. It was not an hereditary misfortune to be 


borne with fortitude ; it was to be assumed as our 
personal guilt. " Original sin " means real sin. 
Adam sinned as the typical and representative 
man, and every man became a sinner. No indi- 
vidual could plead an alibi. The " conviction of 
sin " was not the acquiescence in a penalty, — it 
was the heartbreaking consciousness of the " ex- 
ceeding sinfulness of sin." 

" In Adam's fall we sinned all." When they 
said that, they were thinking not of Adam, but of 
themselves. They did it ; it was the guilt that was 
imputed to them. Sensitive consciences were tor- 
tured in the attempt fully to realize their guilt. 

The real inheritors of this type of conscience 
were to be found among many of the radical 
reformers and agitators who were Hawthorne's 
contemporaries and with whom he had little in 
common. When their formal creed had fallen 
off, there remained the sense of personal guilt for 
original sin. The sin of the nation and of the 
whole social order weighed heavily upon them 
and tortured them, and they found relief only in 

All this was foreign to Hawthorne's mind. In 
his treatment of sin there is always a sense of 


moral detachment. We are not made to see, as 
George Eliot makes us see, the struggle with temp- 
tation, — the soul, like a wild thing, seeing the 
tempting bait and drawing nearer to the trap. 
Hawthorne begins after the deed is done. He 
shows us the 

wild thing taken in a trap 
Which sees the trapper coming thro' the wood. 

Of what is the trap made ? It is made of a deed 
al ready done. Whence comes the ghostly trapper *? 
He is no stranger in the wood. There is no stay- 
ing his advance as he makes his fatal rounds. 

In the preface to the "House of the Seven 
Gables" the author gives the argument of the 
story, — "the truth, namely, that the wrong-doing 
of one generation lives into the successive ones, 
and, divesting itself of every temporary advan- 
tage, becomes a pure and uncontrollable mis- 

This is the theme of the Greek tragedy — 
Nemesis. The deed is done and cannot be un- 
done; the inevitable consequences must be en- 

In the " Scarlet Letter," when Hester and Roger 
Chillingworth review the past and peer into the 


future, Hester says, "I said but now that there 
can be no good event for him or thee or me who 
are wandering together in this gloomy maze of 
evil, and stumbling at every step over the guilt 
wherewith we have strewn our path." 

But is the present stumbling guilt or is it 
merely misery ? The old man replies, " By the 
first slip awry thou didst plant the germ of evil, 
but since that moment it has been a dark neces- 
sity. Ye that have wronged me are not sinful, 
save in a kind of typical illusion, neither am I 
fiend-like who have snatched a fiend's office from 
his hands. It is our fate. Let the black flower 
blossom as it may." 

Strange words to come from one who had sat 
in a Puritan meeting-house I It is such comment 
as the Greek Chorus might make watching the 
unfolding of the doom of the house of Agamem- 
non. And when the tale of the "Scarlet Letter" 
has been told, how does the author himself look 
upon it? How does he distribute praise and 
blame ? 

" To all these shadowy beings so long our near 
acquaintances — as well Roger Chillingworth as 
his companions — we would fain be merciful. It 


is a curious subject of observation and inquiry 
whether love and hatred be not the same thing at 
bottom. Each in its utmost development sup- 
poses a high degree of intimacy and heart-know- 
ledge ; each renders one individual dependent for 
his spiritual life on another ; each leaves the pas- 
sionate lover or the no less passionate hater for- 
lorn and desolate by the withdrawal of its subject. 
Philosophically considered, therefore, the passions 
seem essentially the same except that one happens 
to be seen in celestial radiance and the other in a 
dusky lurid glow." This is not the Puritan Con- 
science uttering itself It is an illusive and ques- 
tioning spirit. 

If in his attitude toward human destiny Haw- 
thorne was in some essential respects un-Puritan, 
so also was he un-modern. There is a character- 
istic difference between antique and modern sym- 
bols for those necessary processes, beyond the 
sphere of our own wills, by which our lives are 
determined. The ancients pictured it with austere 
simplicity. Life is a simple thread. The Fates 
spin it. It is drawn out on the distaff and cut 
off by the fatal shears. 

Compare this with the phrase Carlyle loved to 


quote, " the roaring loom of Time." Life is not a 
spinning-wheel, but a loom. A million shuttles 
fly ; a million threads are inextricably interwoven. 
You cannot long trace the single thread; you 
can discern only the growing pattern. There is 
inevitable causation, but it is not simple but com- 
plex. The situation at the present moment is the 
result not of one cause but of innumerable causes, 
and it is in turn the cause of results that are 
equally incalculable. We are a part of 

the web of being blindly wove 
By man and beast and air and sea. 

Men of science show us how the whole acts upon 
each part and each part acts upon the whole. 
Modern novelists attempt, not always success- 
fully, to give the impression of the amazing com- 
plexity of actual life, where all sorts of things are 
going on at the same time. 

Whether we look upon it as his limitation or 
as his good fortune, Hawthorne adhered to the 
spinning-wheel rather than the loom. We see the 
antique Fates drawing out the thread. A long 
series of events follow one another from a single 

A part of the power of Hawthorne over our 


imagination lies in his singleness of purpose. In 
"The Marble Faun" we are told, "The stream of 
Miriam's trouble kept its way through this flood 
of human life, and neither mingled with it nor 
was turned aside." 

We are made to see the dark streams that do 
not mingle nor turn aside, and we watch their 
fatal flow. 

But is this real, normal life ? In such life do 
not the streams mingle *? Are not evil influences 
quickly neutralized, as noxious germs die in the 
sunshine ? No one would more readily acknow- 
ledge this than Hawthorne. He says : " It is not, 
I apprehend, a healthy kind of mental occupation 
to devote ourselves too exclusively to the study 
of individual men and women. If the person 
under examination be one's self, the result is 
pretty certain to be diseased action of the heart 
almost before we can snatch a second glance. Or 
if we take the freedom to put a friend under the 
microscope, we thereby insulate him from many 
of his true relations, magnify his peculiarities, in- 
evitably tear him into parts, and of course patch 
him clumsily together again. What wonder, then, 
that we be frightened at such a monster, which. 


after all — though we can point to every feature 
of his deformity in the real personage — may be 
said to have been created mainly by ourselves." 

The critic of Hawthorne could not describe 
better the limitation of his stories as pictures 
of real life. His characters, however clearly con- 
ceived, are insulated from many of their real rela- 
tions, and their peculiarities are magnified. 

In the preface to " The Scarlet Letter " he says 
that the tale " wears to my eye a stern and sombre 
aspect, too much ungladdened by the tender and 
familiar influences which soften almost every 
scene of Nature and real life, and which undoubt- 
edly should soften every picture of them." 

One who would defend Hawthorne the Author 
against Hawthorne the Critic must point out the 
kind of literature to which his work belongs. 
When we judge it by the rule of the romance or 
of the realistic novel, we fail to do justice to its 
essential quality. The romancer, the story-teller 
pure and simple, is attracted by the swift sequence 
of events. His nimble fancy follows a plot as a 
kitten follows a string. Now it happens that in a 
world constituted as ours is the sequence of events 
follows a moral order. A good story has always 


in it an element of poetic justice. But the roman- 
cer does not tell his story for the sake of the 
moral. He professes to be as much surprised 
when it is discovered as is the most innocent 
reader. In like manner the realistic novel, in pro- 
portion as it is a faithful portrayal of life, has an 
ethical lesson. But the writer disclaims any pur- 
pose of teaching it. His business is to tell what 
the world is like. He leaves the rest to your in- 

But there is another kind of literature ; it is 
essentially allegory. The allegorist takes a naked 
truth and clothes it with the garments of the im- 
agination. Frequently the clothes do not fit and 
the poor truth wanders about awkwardly, self- 
conscious to the last degree. But if the artist be 
a genius the abstract thought becomes a person. 

Hawthorne's work is something more than alle- 
gory, but his mind worked allegorically. His 
characters were abstract before they became con- 
crete. He was not a realist aiming to give a com- 
prehensive survey of the actual world. He con- 
sciously selected the incidents and scenes which 
would illustrate his theme. 

In his conclusion of" The Marble Faun," when 


the actors have withdrawn, the Author comes 
before the curtain and says that he designed " the 
story and the characters to bear, of course, a cer- 
tain relation to human nature and human Hfe, but 
still to be so artfully and airily removed from our 
mundane sphere that some laws and proprieties 
of their own should be implicitly and insensibly 
acknowledged. The idea of the modern Faun, for 
example, loses all the poetry and beauty which the 
Author fancied in it and becomes nothing better 
than a grotesque absurdity if we bring it into the 
actual light of day." This is not realism. 

It is a mood in which the bounds between ro- 
mance and allegory fade away ; persons become 
symbols and symbols have breathed into them the 
breath of life. The story and the truth it shadows 
are one. 

The mood is common in poetry. Poets like 
Dante and Spenser and Shelley from it have given 


Wise and lovely songs 
Of fate and God and chance and chaos old. 
And love. 

There is a point where " dreams begin to feel 
the truth and stir of day," where the incidents of 
existence assume a dream-like character, and where 


dreams become transparent symbols of reality. 
There are moods in which our familiar world 
seems strange to us, and we walk in it as on some 
bewildered shore. 

In such moods to meet Hawthorne is a great 
experience. He is no longer shy and aloof, but 
he opens to us his heart, and with friendly zeal 
points out each object of interest — for in this 
border-land he is at home. 


THE cruelty of bad people is easily explained. 
They are cruel because they enjoy watch- 
ing the pain of others. There are also the igno- 
rant and half-formed, to whom the word " inhu- 
manity " applies literally. They have not yet been 
really humanized. Before they can habitually yield 
to feelings of compassion there is much to be done 
in developing their higher natures. They must be 
urged to 

Move upward, working out the beast, 
And let the ape and tiger die. 

The beast has a long start, and the ape and tiger 
die hard. 

But this is only half the story. We are contin- 
ually surprised at the cruelty that is possible in 
those in whom there seems to be no tigerish sur- 
vival. It Is intimately associated with the higher 
rather than with the lower part of the nature. It 
is spiritual, rational, and moral. The cruelty of 


women and priests is proverbial — and they are 
good women and good priests. 

Listen to the talk in a drawing-room when some 
question involving the fate of thousands is intro- 
duced. There is a strike or lock-out. It means that 
the hostile parties are struggling on a narrow ledge 
between two precipices. The workmen are trying 
to push the employers into the abyss of bank- 
ruptcy; the employers are exerting every means 
in their power to hurl their antagonists into the 
abyss of starvation. It is a battle to the death, and 
in many a home pale-faced women are watching 
it with despairing eyes. But what says my lady 
who likes to talk about current events^ It is 
evident when she begins to speak that she is not 
touched by the tragedy of it all. Nero watching 
the burning of Rome could not assume an air of 
more complete detachment. She talks as if it were 
nothing to her. Or the talk turns to the affairs of 
state. Issues that involve the fate of nations awake 
in her only a languid curiosity. The diplomacy 
of prudent statesmen who are endeavoring to 
keep the peace strikes her as mere dilly-dallying. 
She wants to see something doing. She enjoys a 
romantic sensation, and urges on those who would 


give her this pleasure. Was there ever a useless 
war without fair faces looking down upon it ap- 
provingly — at least at the beginning ? 

I saw pale kings, and princes too. 

Pale warriors, death pale were they all; 

They cried, *' La Belle Dame sans Merci 
Hath thee in thrall." 

Yet she who in regard to the great affairs which 
involve millions may appear as " La Belle Dame 
sans Merci " may be to all those whom she knows 
a minister of purest kindness. It is only towards 
those whom she does not know that she is piti- 

Philosophers are usually cruel in their judg- 
ments of the persons and events of the passing 
day, and that is perhaps the reason why no nation 
has been willing to take the hint from Plato and 
allow the philosophers to rule. It would be too 
harsh a despotism. Flesh and blood could not 
endure it. For the philosopher is concerned with 
general laws and is intolerant of exceptions, 
while it is the quality of mercy to treat each per- 
son as in some degree an exception. Fancy the 
misery that would be involved in the attempt to 


level us all up to the cold heights of abstract 
virtue on which Spinoza dwelt One shudders 
to think of the calamity that would ensue were 
all our lawmakers to be suddenly Hegelianized. 
All the attempts to alleviate the hard conditions 
under which people are living would cease. The 
energy that is now spent in trying to abolish 
abuses would then be directed toward explaining 
them. What wailings would go up from earth's 
millions on the proclamation of the rule of un- 
limited Spencerianism ! We should look back 
with envy to the good old times of Nero and 

As the Inquisition handed its victims over to the 
secular arm and disclaimed all further responsi- 
bility, so this new tyrant would hand over all the 
unfit to the unobstructed working of natural 
law. No attention would be paid to our senti- 
mental preferences for particular persons. Those 
merciful interferences which have been the con- 
trivance of mankind for the protection of weak- 
ness must be swept aside. The unfit must take 
the full penalty justly visited on their unfitness. 
The moment we begin to particularize we rebel. 
Pity revolts against a too cold philosophy. 


It is needless to say that the theologians have 
often attained refinements of cruelty unknown 
even to the most severely logical of the secular 
philosophers. They have been able to distill out 
of the purest religious affections a poison capable 
of producing in the sensitive soul unutterable 
agony. Then they have watched the writhing of 
the victim with a cold benevolence. The worst 
of it was that the benevolence was real in spite 
of the fact that it froze all the fountains of 
natural pity. 

Jonathan Edwards was not merely a good man 
in the ordinary sense. His goodness rose into ideal 
heights. He had a genius for ethics as well as for 
religion. He is still a teacher of teachers. But 
this wonderful man, who must ever have a high 
place among the leaders and inspirers of mankind, 
has an equally high place among the torturers of 
the spirit. To understand the kind of pain which 
he inflicted we must not be content with the 
threatenings of torment in sermons like that on 
" Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God." The 
pictorial imagery which now startles us was 
common enough in his day. The torments of 
sinners was an ordinary theme ; Edwards added 


appreciably to the torments of the saints. His 
vivisection of the human soul was without com- 
punction. In the hearts and desires of the inno- 
cent he discovered guilt for which there was no 
pardon. Every resting-place for natural human 
affection was torn away, and when at last from 
the clear heaven the love of God shone down in 
dazzling splendor, it shone upon a desert. 

The cruelty of it all is seen in its effects on 
minds naturally prone to melancholy. Read the 
journal of a disciple of Edwards, David Brainerd, 
and remember that for several generations that 
journal was esteemed a proper book to put into 
the hands of youth. The editor of the Journal 
says, " As an example of a mind tremulously ap- 
prehensive of sin, loathing it in every form and 
for its own sake, avoiding even the appearance 
of evil, rising above all terrestrial considerations, 
advancing rapidly in holiness, and finding its only 
enjoyment in the glory of God, probably no simi- 
lar work in any language can furnish a parallel." 
Poor Brainerd I Every step along the heavenly 
way cost him a pang. He never could forget for 
more than a few hours at a time that he was hu- 
man, and to be human was to be vile. The groans 


follow one another with monotonous iteration. 
He loved God, but he felt his guilt in not loving 
him more. He was not only afraid of hell, but 
of a heaven of which he was unworthy. 

" I seem to be declining with respect to my 
life and warmth in divine things. I deserve hell 
every day for not loving my Lord more. ... I 
saw myself very mean and vile, and wondered at 
those who showed me respect." 

We all feel that way sometimes, but to have 
the feelings set down day by day for years at a 
time seems hardly profitable. We are relieved 
when occasionally the editor summarizes the spir- 
itual conflicts of a week or two without going 
into details, as in the latter part of December, 
1744. "The next twelve days he was for the 
most part extremely dejected, discouraged and 
distressed, and was evidently much under the 
power of melancholy. There are from day to day 
most bitter complaints of exceeding vileness, 
ignorance, and corruption; an amazing load of 
guilt, unworthiness even to creep on God's earth, 
everlasting uselessness, fitness for nothing, etc., and 
sometimes expressions even of horror at the 
thoughts of ever preaching again. But yet in this 


time of dejection he speaks of several intervals 
of divine help and comfort." 

The pitiful thing about it all was that Brainerd's 
distress arose not from the consciousness of any 
particular shortcoming of his own, which after 
all was finite. He was endeavoring to realize the 
meaning of that infinite guilt which was his as 
a child of Adam. That guilt must be infinite 
because it was a sin against infinite purity and 
power. When he had repented to the very ut- 
most of his ability, he was conscious that he had 
not repented enough. 

When he went to New Jersey as a missionary 
to the Indians, it was this abnormal spiritual sen- 
sitiveness which he endeavored to impart to the | 
aboriginal mind. 

He found it difficult to bring the Indians to that 
degree of spiritual anguish which, in his view, 
was necessary to their salvation. He could make 
them understand the meaning of actual transgres- 
sion, but they were dull of comprehension when 
he urged them to repent of original sin. 

" Another difficulty," he says, " which I am 
now upon, is that it is next to impossible to bring 
them to a rational conviction that they are sin- 


ners by nature, and that their hearts are corrupt 
and sinful, unless one can charge them with some 
gross act of immorality such as the light of nature 

One would suppose that the missionary might 
have found among his untutored Indians enough 
actual transgressions to have brought to them a 
conviction of sin and a desire for a better life. 
But no, that was not enough, it would have fallen 
far short of what he had in mind. It would have 
only convinced them that they were sinners indi- 
vidually considered, and would not have over- 
whelmed them with the guilt of the race. So 
he hit upon a device to turn their minds from 
the incidental trangressions of mature life to the 
central fact that depravity was innate and uni- 

" The method which I take to convince them 
that we are sinners by nature is to lead them to 
an observation of their little children : how they 
will appear in a rage, fight and strike their mothers 
before they are able to speak or walk, while they 
are so young that they are incapable of learning 
such practices. ... As children have never learned 
these things, they must have been in their natures ; 


and consequently they must be allowed to be by 
nature the children of wrath." 

It did not seem to occur to Brainerd that in 
thus setting the child in the midst of them as an 
illustration of the kingdom of wrath he was not 
imitating the method of Jesus. Even in his treat- 
ment of the sins of later life there is something 
illustrative of the cruel system which dominated 

" I then mention all the vices I know the In- 
dians to be guilty of, and so make use of these 
sinful streams to convince them that xht fountain 
is corrupt. This is the end for which I mention 
their wicked practices to them ; not because I 
expect to bring them to an effectual reformation 
merely by inveighing against their immoralities, 
but hoping that they may hereby be convinced 
of the corruption of their hearts, and awakened 
to a sense of the depravity and misery of their 
fallen state." 

Brainerd had in mind a profound truth ; every 
great moral awakening is accompanied by pain. 
But he was not content with that which comes 
naturally. All specific reformation in morals and 
manners was subordinated to that which he con- 


ceived to be the essential thing, — that they should 
feel to its full extent the misery of being human. 

In every readjustment of thought or advance 
in the manner of life there is involved a vast 
amount of unescapable pain. There is also a 
great deal of pain that is gratuitously inflicted. 
In the contest between the forces of conservatism 
and progress it is difficult to say which side is 
more open to the charge of cruelty. 

In reading history our sympathies are usually 
with the bold innovator. He stands alone against 
the world and proclaims an unpopular truth. He 
is misunderstood, reviled, persecuted for right- 
eousness' sake. The defenders of the old order 
are hard-hearted persecutors who hound him to 

But this is only half the story. A glimpse of 
the other side is given in the very term we use. 
We speak of the defenders of the old order. We 
only understand their feelings when we remem- 
ber that they were really on the defensive. The 
things they held most sacred were attacked by a 
ruthless power which they could not understand. 
They flew to the rescue of sanctuaries about to 


be violated. They often fought as those in mortal 
agony, using blindly such weapons as came to 
their hands. 

In " The Faerie Queene " Una, the fair symbol 
of Truth, wanders through the forest protected 
by her lion. He is a good lion and faithful 
to his lady. 

The lyon would not leave her desolate. 

But with her went along, as a strong gard 

Of her chast person, and a faythfull mate 

Of her sad troubles and misfortunes hard : 

Still when she slept, he kept both watch and ward ; 

And when she wakt, he wayted diligent 

With humble service to her will prepard ; 

From her fayre eyes he took commandement 

And ever by her lookes conceived her intent. 

That is the picture that comes to the adherent 
of the old order. The pure virgin Truth walked 
unharmed, with her strong protector by her side. 
At length a proud Paynim attacked the gentle 
lady. Then it was that 

her fiers servant, full of kingly aw 
And high disdaine, whenas his soveraine Dame 
So rudely handled by her foe he saw. 
With gaping jawes full greedy at him came. 
And, ramping on his shield, did weene the same 
Have reft away with his sharp rending clawes. 


But it was a losing battle. The lion's sudden 
fierceness was all in vain. 

O then, too weake and feeble was the forse 

Of salvage beast. 

Now that her defender is slain, what is to be- 
come of Lady Truth *? 

Who now is left to keepe the forlorn maid 
From raging spoile of lawless victor's will ? 

The lover of the old order does not stop to ask 
whether the Hon may not have made a mistake, 
and whether the object of his attack may not 
have been, instead of a proud Paynim, only a 
Christian knight who had approached to ask his 
way. Nor does he feel pity for the pains inflicted 
by the lion's " sharp rending clawes." He only 
cries, " Poor lion I Poor Lady Truth ! " 

" But," says the careful reader, " are you not 
getting away from your subject? You proposed 
the question, ' Why are good people so cruel ? ' 
You began with the conversation of excellent 
ladies in the drawing-room, and now you have 
wandered off into faery land, and are talking 
about the Lady Truth and the noble lion who 
died in her defense. I fear you are losing your 


On the contrary, dear reader, I think, as the 
children say when they are hunting the thimble, 
we are " getting warm." We started out to find 
a cause for the obHviousness of good people to 
the pain which they inflict on others, and we have 
come into the region of allegory. Now, one of 
the chief reasons why good people are cruel is 
that it is so easy for them to allegorize. 

In an allegory virtues and vices are personified. 
Each is complete in itself, and when it once has 
been set going it follows a preordained course. It 
does not grow into something else, and it is in- 
capable of repentance or improvement. In the 
morality plays a virtue is as virtuous and a vice 
as vicious at the beginning as at the end. Spenser 
prefixes to " The Faerie Queene " a prose explan- 
ation of the meaning of each important character. 
" The first of the Knight of the Red-crosse, in 
whom I set forth Holynes; the second of Sir 
Guyon, in whome I sette forth Temperance ; the 
third of Britomartis, a lady knight, in whom I 
picture Chastity." Now, after this explanation we 
are relieved of all those anxieties which beset us 
when we watch creatures of flesh and blood set- 
ting out in the world to try their souls. Every- 


thing is as much a matter of invariable law as the 
reactions of chemical elements. The Knight of 
the Red-cross may appear to be tempted, but he 
is really immune. He cannot fall from grace. 
From that disaster he is protected by the defini- 
tion. We have only to learn what the word holi- 
ness means to know what he will do. As for Sir 
Guyon, when once we learn that he is Temper- 
ance, we would trust him anywhere. For such 
characters there is nothing possible but ultimate 
triumph over their foes. And what of their foes ? 
Being allegorical characters, they cannot be re- 
formed. There is nothing to do but to kill them 
without compunction, or if we can catch them 
in the traps which they have set for others, and 
make them suffer the torments they have them- 
selves invented, so much the better. We welcome 
the knight — 

Who slayes the Gyaunt, wounds the Beast, 
And strips Duessa quight. 

We have no compunctions as we watch the ad- 
ministration of poetical justice. Whatever hap- 
pens to the false Duessa and to such miscreants 
as Sansfoy and Sansjoy and Sansloy, we say that 
it serves them right. 


If we can only hold fast to the allegorical clue, 
and be assured that he is dealing with sins and 
not with persons, we can follow Dante through 
purgatory without flinching. The moral always 
is a good one, and full of suggestiveness. 

But the moment we mistake an allegorical 
character for a person of flesh and blood we 
get into trouble. Even the most perfect parable 
represents only a certain phase of reality. When 
it is forced beyond its real intention and taken 
literally it shocks our sense of humanity. It needs 
to be interpreted by the same wise spirit that con- 
ceived it. We repeat the story of the symbolic 
virgins who had forgotten to put oil in their 
lamps, or of the servant who was too timid to put 
his master's money out to usury. The child asks, 
" Was n't it cruel of those wise virgins not to give 
the others just a little of their oil ? And after the 
door was shut and the foolish virgins knew how 
foolish they were and were sorry, could n't the 
people inside have opened the door just a little 
bit^ And just because the servant was afraid to 
go to the bank with the money, because it was so 
little, ought the master to have been so hard with 
him as to say, 'Cast ye the unprofitable servant 


into the outer darkness ; there shall be weeping 
and wailing and gnashing of teeth *? ' Why did n't 
he give him another chance *? " 

Then the parent will explain that these are 
symbolic characters. Or perhaps he may not try 
to explain, but change the subject and read a 
story of real people like that of the prodigal son 
or the good Samaritan. The child may be made 
to understand that while the door is always shut 
against a sin, it is always open for the sinner who 

The sensitive child takes up the " Pilgrim's Pro- 
gress " and reads of the way Christian went on his 
way to the heavenly city, meeting all kinds of 
people, yet apparently without sympathy for most 
of them. "Why did he leave his wife and little 
children in the City of Destruction and go off 
alone ? If he knew that the city was to be burned 
up, why did n't he stay with them *? He does n't 
seem to care very much for what happens to 
people who are not of his set." So it seems to be. 
Mr. Hold-the-world, Mr. Money-love, and Mr. 
Save-all walk along with him, and then they go 
off the path to look into a silver-mine. Christian 
doesn't take the trouble to find out what became 


of them. Bunyan says coolly, " Whether they fell 
into the pit by looking over the brink or whether 
they went down to dig, or whether they were 
smothered by the damps that commonly arise, 
of these things I am not certain ; but this I ob- 
served, that they were never seen that way again." 
Christian goes on after the tragedy perfectly un- 
concerned, singing a cheerful hymn. It was none 
of his business what happened to those who 
wandered off the road. He is rather pleased than 
otherwise when Vain-Confidence falls into the pit. 
When "the brisk young lad," Ignorance, joins 
him Christian converses with him only long 
enough to find out his name and where he came 
from. Then instead of trying to improve him he 
leaves him behind. Poor Ignorance trudges after, 
but he never can catch up. 

All this is right in an allegory. Ignorance must 
be left behind, Vain-Confidence must perish in the 
pit ; from the City of Destruction we must flee 
without waiting for others to follow. This is a 
very simple lesson in the way of life. The next 
lesson is more difficult and it is quite different, — 
how to treat ignorant and vainglorious and other- 
wise impQxfect persons. 


The first thing we have to remember is that 
they are persons, and that persons are quite dif- 
ferent from allegorical characters. Persons can 
change their minds, they can repent and aspire 
after a better life, and above all they have feelings, 
— which abstract virtues and vices do not have. 
Does not the cruelty of the good chiefly arise 
from the fact that they do not see all this ? 

In a preceding essay we have considered 
Hawthorne's judgment on the characters which 
he himself created. His most powerful story of 
sin and retribution wears to his eyes " a stern and 
sombre aspect too much ungladdened by the 
tender and familiar influences which soften almost 
every scene of Nature and real life." He was 
aware that he was depicting not all of life, but 
only one aspect of it. He saw the characters of 
the " Scarlet Letter," as they saw themselves, " in a 
kind of typical illusion." He was fully aware that 
his treatment was symbolic rather than realistic. 
Real life is infinitely more complex and therefore 
more full of possibilities of good than any sym- 
bolic representation of it. 

I do not think that good people are really as 
cruel at heart as one would be led to think from 


their words, or even from their acts. I remember 
a good professor of theology who was discoursing 
on the way in which the Canaanites were destroyed 
in order that Israel might possess the land. 

" Professor," asked a literal-minded student, 
" why did the Lord create the Canaanites, any- 
how ^ " 

"The Lord created the Canaanites," answered 
the professor, " in order that Israel might have 
something on which to whet his sword." 

The words were bloodthirsty enough ; and yet 
had I been a Canaanite in distress I should have 
made my way at once to the good professor's 
house. I am sure that the moment he saw me he 
would have taken me in and ministered tenderly 
to my distresses and protected me from an un- 
kindly world. But I should have taken the pre- 
caution to let him see me before he learned my 
name. A Canaanite in the abstract would be an 
abomination to him, and I would have to take 
pains to make him understand that I was a hu- 
man being. 

The word " cruel " is in its derivation akin to 
" crude ; " it is that which is raw and unripe. Like 
all other good things, righteousness at first is 


crude. Crude righteousness takes no account of 
the difference between a sinner and his sin; it 
hates both alike with a bitter hatred, and visits 
on each the same condemnation. It is harsh and 
bitter. For all that it is a good thing, this unripe 
fruit of righteousness. Give it time and sunshine, 
and it will grow sweet and mellow. 

ElectrotyPed and printed by H. O. Houghton &> Co. 
Cambridge, Mass., U. S. A.